Cancer vaccine push for Cornish girls by NHS
Parents in Cornwall are being urged by the NHS to allow girls to have a vaccine which protects them against a virus which can cause cervical cancer.
Health bosses said it was "really worrying" that take-up had dropped of the vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV) since 2009.
They said the treatment for girls aged 12 and 13 was successful at preventing the disease.
Parental agreement is needed before doctors can administer the vaccine.
The programme, which was introduced in 2008, consists of three injections given over a period of six months.
NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly said the take-up of the vaccine had decreased from 80% of girls between September 2009 and August 2010 to 49% between September 2011 and June 2012.
Felicity Owen, director of public health for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, said: "These poor take-up figures are really worrying and I would really like to impress upon parents how important this vaccine is.
"Young women are at risk of being exposed to HPV from the day they become sexually active
"Routine screening for cervical cancer, which can detect cell changes on the cervix, isn't available to them until they are aged 25.
"The HPV programme is expected to prevent hundreds of unnecessary deaths from cervical cancer.
"This is a cancer that tragically can affect women of all ages and can be prevented."