The vaccine is shown to protect against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the more than 1,100 sixth-grade girls in D.C. this year, just 87 have completed their three shots. Almost twice that number have begun -- but not completed -- the series. And more than five times that number have not had any shots and not submitted waivers asking to "opt out" of the program.
Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt with the D.C. Department of Health says students recieve information when they register for school, and they haven't looked into why students aren't completing the series.
She says all this while they've focused on parental outreach. Now the health department will begin evaluating the program to see if it needs to shift strategy.
"Part of that evaulation will help us determine whether or not it's effective to do an outreach program targeted just at the adolescent girls for whom the vaccine is required in addition to their parents," Nesbitt says.
Those findings should be available by the beginning of the next academic year.