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DCPS Requires HPV Shots, Less Than 10 Percent Complete Series

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Only 8 percent of sixth- and seventh-grade girls in D.C. Public Schools have completed the series of Human Papillomavirus vaccine shots. That's despite a law requiring students to get the vaccine unless parents sign a refusal form.

During the 2009 academic year, sixth graders in D.C. public schools had to receive the HPV vaccine or show proof that their parents had chosen to "opt out." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine is shown to protect against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.

But last year just 87 of approximately 1,100 eligible students completed the series of three shots required. That's less than 8 percent.

This academic year, the percentage for current sixth graders is similar: More than 450 students have neither completed the shots nor formally opted out this year.

Meanwhile, department officials say the compliance rate for other vaccines is approximately 90 percent.

Neither the health department nor D.C. Council Member David Catania, who championed the effort, to require the shots was available for comment.

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