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Italy to offer cancer vaccine

10th April 2007

The Italian government has announced it will vaccinate schoolgirls against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer.

The country is the first in the EU to offer the vaccine free to 12-year-old girls, the health ministry said.

Officials will also launch a campaign to encourage parents to take up the offer.

But the vaccine, against human papillomavirus (HPV), won't be compulsory, they said.

Sanofi-Pasteur, the vaccine division of Sanofi-Aventis, will supply the vaccine, which is believed to be most effective before girls become sexually active. Older females who want the vaccine will have to pay for it, the ministry said.

Plans to vaccinate schoolgirls in the United States have run into opposition in some states.


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