Low HPV Vaccination Rates In NV.

Kyla Sweeny and her sister Hannah are only 3 years apart.

But they will tell you emotionally they are closer than that.

They do just about everything together, including getting the HPV vaccine three years ago.

“I do remember getting the shot but I don't remember having a good understanding of what it was for,” says Kyla.

“You know it was for their safety, that was my main thought,” says Kyla's dad Dan when asked why he agreed to the vaccination for his daughters.

The vaccine has been on the market for about 6 years now.

At first it was recommended for 11 and 12 year old girls, recently boys of the same age have fallen under that recommendation.

After a series of three shots, the patients are protected against the most common strains of the Human Papillomavirus which are responsible for cervical and other forms of cancer.

“By the time a woman has been sexually active for 2 years, 40-percent of them are infected with HPV, and by the time a woman is 50 years of age, 80% of them are infected with HPV,” says Lynne Shore with Washoe County Health Department's Immunization Program.

But even with those odds, only about 30% of girls here in Nevada have completed the course of three shots.

And that schedule is just one reason for the low rate of HPV immunization.

Other barriers include the cost, the perception that the vaccine gives teenagers a green light to have sex, or that the vaccine is dangerous.

A recent study of 190,000 girls shows no adverse side effects short term except for pain at the injection site.

Long term safety studies are still underway.

While some parents say barriers like cost and a three shot series are just too much for them to get their children vaccinated, some health professionals say there is one group that won't be deterred--those are mothers who have had their own brush with cervical cancer.