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US debates cancer vaccine

31st January 2007

04092006_cervical_cancer1.jpgThe development of the vaccine Gardasil, which protects against the virus which causes cervical cancer, has sparked widespread debate in the United States over whether it should be made compulsory for young schoolgirls.

Manufacturers Merck & Co. are lobbying for state laws mandating the immunisation programme, but critics say it would encourage premarital sex.

Currently, at least 18 states are debating whether to make Gardasil compulsory.

Approved by the federal government in July, the vaccine protects girls and women against strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) responsible for most types of cervical cancer.

Experts recommend vaccination takes place at ages 11 and 12, before girls become sexually active.

So far, not a single state has added it to its list of mandatory immunisations.

 

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