Illinois ranks near the bottom when it comes to the number of teen girls who have been vaccinated against the sexually-transmitted human papillomavirus. According to new federal data, the ranking has been dropping in recent years, and now Illinois is 48th, ahead of only Arkansas and Mississippi, in the percentage of teen girls who've had the three HPV vaccine doses.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 21-percent of Illinois girls ages 13 to 17 got the complete vaccination in 2012, compared with 34-percent in 2011. Medicaid and most insurance plans now cover the cost of the HPV vaccine and a federal program provides it for the uninsured. HPV has been linked to cervical cancer and other diseases.