Federal health officials say about one in four
teenage girls have gotten the vaccine that prevents cervical
Gardasil is a three-shot series that targets the strain of a
virus that causes 70 percent of cervical cancers. Health officials
recommend that girls get the shots when they are 11 or 12, before
they become sexually active.
Proponents of the vaccine had been hoping for much higher
vaccination rates. They say the shots could dramatically reduce the
nearly 4,000 cervical cancer deaths in the country each year.
But experts say many families are cautious about the safety of
new vaccines. It's also expensive, and questions remain about
whether it confers lifetime immunity or if a booster shot will be
Merck, the company that makes Gardasil, says it's pleased with
the vaccination rate.