WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More U.S. teens are getting recommended vaccines against certain cancers, meningitis and infectious diseases, government researchers reported on Thursday.
More than 40 percent of girls have received at least one dose of the new vaccine that protects against a virus that causes cervical and other cancers, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than half have received a booster shot that protects against tetanus, whooping cough and diphtheria, the survey of 20,000 teens aged 13 to 17 said.
"We can see that more parents of adolescents are electing to protect their children from serious diseases such as pertussis (whooping cough), meningitis, and cervical cancer but there is clear room for improvement in our system's ability to reach this age group," the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat said.
She pointed to recent outbreaks of whooping cough, especially in California, where state health officials say seven infants too young to be vaccinated have died and 3,000 cases have been reported.
"Young infants are most vulnerable to serious complications from pertussis and can be infected by older siblings, parents or other caretakers," Schuchat said in a statement.
The survey found that 56 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 had at least one dose of tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis vaccine, known as Tdap, an increase of 15 points since 2008.
It found 54 percent of teens got at least one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine, up 12 points. This vaccine is aimed at teenagers who will go to new high schools or colleges and risk getting infected by the sometimes fatal bacteria in dorms or when they begin dating.
The survey showed 44 percent of girls had received at least one dose of human papillomavirus, or HPV vaccine, an increase of seven percentage points. Only 27 percent of girls got all three doses of the vaccine, up nine points from 2008.
HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and also can cause throat, anal and penile cancers.
"Completing the three-dose HPV vaccine series is very important to ensure protection against cervical cancer," Schuchat said. "Visits for immunization can be a great opportunity to address other important preventive issues that all teens need."
Two HPV vaccines are licensed -- Cervarix from GlaxoSmithKline and Gardasil from Merck & Co.
Novartis and Sanofi make vaccines against meningitis and several companies make Tdap vaccines.
Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Bill Trott