Millions of Americans have seen the ad blitz for Merck's new drug Gardasil. The FDA only approved Gardasil in June and already, there is talk of making the $360 vaccine mandatory for the 2 million American girls who enter the sixth grade every year. Gardasil, which is manufactured by Merck, is the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer, precancerous genital lesions and genital warts resulting from exposure to HPV. It is highly effective against four types of the virus, including two that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, said the CDC. Three doses of the new vaccine should be given to girls when they're 11 or 12 years old, according to the CDC committee's recommendation. The shots can be given to girls as young as 9 with the advice of a doctor or other health care provider.
Some worry that may sends a mixed signal by protecting girls against a sexually transmitted disease while at the same time telling them they shouldn't have sex.
But whether girls entering the 6th grade should be immunized is the subject of sharp debate among parents, including those who welcomed the vaccine and those who were afraid it might encourage early sexual activity.
HOUSTON - Texas on Friday became the first state to require school-age girls be vaccinated against a virus - typically transmitted through sex - that has been shown to cause cervical cancer.
Gov. Rick Perry signed an executive order mandating that most girls, starting in September 2008, receive the vaccination against the human papilloma virus, or HPV, prior to entering sixth grade.(source)
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