In the United Kingdom and Australia, for instance, HPV vaccination rates among girls and women top 70 percent.
Simard said that getting more doctors to recommend the HPV vaccine to parents and young adults is vital.
Cost is another issue. The two HPV vaccines -- Merck's Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix -- cost about $400 for three doses.
Low-income families can get the vaccine for free through the federal Vaccines for Children program. But Simard's team found that girls who were eligible for the program but lacked any health insurance had low rates of HPV vaccination: Just 14 percent had gotten three doses.
Better access to overall health care might help close that gap, Simard said.
According to Schiffman, it's not clear how effective HPV vaccination will ultimately be in preventing HPV-related cancers. But one strain -- HPV 16 -- is thought to cause the majority of cancers linked to the virus. And both HPV vaccines protect against that strain.
Learn more about HPV and cancer from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
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