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The standing recommendation for HPV vaccination is that three shots should be given to 11- and 12-year-old girls within a six-month window, with catch-up shots advised up to age 26, but a new study found most young women aren’t getting that.

Scientists studied insurance records of 271,976 girls and women in the United States who received an initial vaccination from 2006 to 2009 and found that the rate at which the young women completed the series within a year dropped to less than 22 percent in 2009 from more than 50 percent in 2006. The only area where an increase in completion was seen was among the 2 percent of women older than 27 who received the shots off-label. That rate rose from 15 percent in 2006 to 24 percent in 2009.

Girls who received the vaccination from a clinic as opposed to a pediatrician were less likely to complete the series. On the other hand, women who received their vaccinations from a gynecologist were most likely to get all three shots. Dr. Abbey B. Berenson, a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch, says something must be done to increase the rates of completion.

Getting one shot is not enough, she said. “All the data is based on three injections. Getting one shot does not protect, based on the data we have now.”

From the findings, it seems as though the onus is on clinics to stress the importance of receiving all three shots and encourage young girls to complete follow-up or else they want be protected.

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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