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Over Eighty Percent Of Sixth Grade Girls In D.C. Public Schools Receive HPV Vaccine

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Girls entering the sixth grade in D.C. Public Schools this year had to receive the Human Papillomavirus vaccine or show proof that their parents had chosen to "opt out."

The vaccine, better known by it's trade name "Gardasil," is shown to protect girls against four types of HPV, two of which commonly cause cervical cancer. In D.C. public schools, almost 1,200 girls entered the sixth grade this year, and 82 percent of girls entering sixth grade this year received the vaccine.

Dr LaQuandra Nesbitt, with the D.C. Department of Health, says overall vaccination rate in D.C. public schools is approximately 90 percent. But she wasn't surprised the HPV numbers were lower. "We do understand there is some public concern so we had an expectation there would be 15 to 20 percent of the young ladies who would opt out."

Students need to receive three shots over the course of several months to build immunity to the virus.The vaccine has been controversial because of concerns over vaccine safety as well as that it might encourage promiscuity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than six million people become infected each year.

Kavitha Cardoza reports...

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