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New research about potentially life-saving vaccine could get more people protected

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DENVER -- New research about a potentially life-saving vaccine could lead more people to get it.

We’re talking about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine—and researchers say you may now only need one shot to prevent the virus and resulting diseases, including cancer.

"That was a big motivator, knowing what I know and seeing what I see," says Margaret Sheehan, a nurse in the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

She says her job spurred her to get the vaccine six years ago.

"Seeing the end result, seeing the sick 25-year-old with a three-year-old child, you can't help but make it personal. Because I was 25 with a baby and you think it could be you," she says.

She can’t understand why more people have not taken advantage of the anti-cancer vaccine.

Just 38 percent of 13- to 17-year-old girls and boys in Colorado have.

"Now that it's here, do it. What are you waiting for? There are no negative side effects expect pain in your arm," says Sheehan.

"For whatever reason, people aren't getting vaccinated. And obviously, it's not effective if it’s not used," says Dr. Chesney Thompson, who specializes in sexually transmitted diseases.

He is encouraged by the research from the National Cancer Institute that shows one dose of the vaccine could work as well as the standard three doses.

"They found even with one vaccine injection, these women still mounted an antibody response that sustained through those four years. That suggests those people are immune to the virus," he says.

"One shot is better than none," says Sheehan.

Her motivation in getting the vaccine went beyond the pain she sees at work caused by cancer.

"I want to be there for him. I don't want him to get sick," she says of her son Joseph.

He will get the vaccine when he’s old enough.

She’s not taking any chances with cancer.

"Because it's horrible, painful, debilitating," she says.

The vaccine is recommended for people ages 9 to 26.

And they should still get all three doses over six-months, until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends otherwise.

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