More teenage girls have gotten vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) in recent years, but "missed vaccination opportunities remain high" in many communities, including South L.A.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that only about 54 percent had received at least one dose of the three-dose vaccination in 2012.
That's almost double South L.A.'s vaccination rate: A little more than 29 percent of girls between 13 and 17 years of age have received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, according to the county's public health department.
South L.A.'s is also the lowest rate of any area in Los Angeles County, whose overall vaccination rate is about 45 percent.
According to the CDC, there are more than 40 types of HPV, the most common sexually-transmitted infection. An estimated 79 million Americans currently live with the infection, which can cause genital warts and certain cancers, including cervical and oropharyngeal.
CDC officials were encouraged by the fact that, between 2007 and 2011, the percentage of girls who'd gotten at least one dose of the vaccine increased every year, from about 25 percent to 53 percent. But coverage leveled off between 2011 and 2012, noted officials, despite plenty of opportunities to get the vaccine:
[A 2012 health survey] shows that 84% of unvaccinated girls had a health-care encounter where another vaccine was administered. Had the 3-dose HPV series been initiated at these visits, coverage for [at least one] dose could be as high as 92.6%.
The authors said in 2012, only about 1 in 3 teenage girls had received all three doses of the HPV vaccine.
The CDC says if 80 percent of adolescent girls received all three doses of the vaccine, it could prevent an estimated 53,000 cases of cervical cancer among girls 12 or older.