SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's government is ordering all students ages 11 and 12 to get vaccinated against HPV by next year.
Monday's announcement follows a rise in cancers tied to the human papillomavirus across the U.S. territory. Health officials said the rate of cervical cancer in Puerto Rico is 11 percent compared with 7 percent in the U.S. mainland.
Health Secretary Rafael Rodriguez said the requirement applies to both public and private schools. Students can opt out for medical or religious reasons if they present a sworn declaration or a doctor's certification.
Officials said those lacking health insurance will receive free vaccines at health centers.
At least two states and Washington D.C. require that students be vaccinated against HPV.