A government panel today recommended that girls as young as 11 routinely get a new vaccine against cervical cancercervical cancer. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the government on vaccine policies, unanimously backed widespread use of the vaccine in preadolescent girls in hopes of protecting them before most become sexually active. The vaccine, known as Gardasil, prevents infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus known to cause most cervical cancers and genital wartsgenital warts. If the panel’s recommendation is approved by the Bush administration, Gardasil would join vaccines against measlesmeasles, whooping coughwhooping cough, chicken pox, and other diseases on the list of routine shots for all American children. Such approval would also qualify Gardasil for inclusion in a federal program that provides free vaccines for low-income children. ‘This is a huge breakthrough for women’s health and for prevention and for cancercancer prevention,’ said Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the CDC. The vaccine received the unanimous consent of an FDA panel earlier this month after the drug company Merck showed it was nearly 100% effective in preventing HPV infections. Early Vaccinations But […]

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