Atlanta One in three teenage girls have rolled up their sleeves for a vaccine against cervical cancer, but vaccination rates vary dramatically between states, according to a federal report released Thursday.
The highest rates were in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where more than half of girls ages 13 through 17 got at least one dose of the three-shot vaccination. The lowest rates were in Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, where fewer than 20 percent got at least one shot.
The report is the first to give state-by-state rates for Merck’s Gardasil vaccine. It targets strains of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers. It came on the market in 2006.
Health officials recommend that girls get the shots when they are 11 or 12, if possible, before they become sexually active so they have immunity before they are first infected. The shots are approved for females 9 through 26.