Texas Governor Rick Perry has signed an executive order making his state the first to require that schoolgirls receive the Gardasil vaccine against cervical cancer.
"If there are diseases in our society that are going to cost us large amounts of money, it just makes good economic sense, not to mention the health and well-being of these individuals, to have those vaccines available," he told the Associated Press.
The vaccine - which was approved for use by the federal government in June - has proven highly protective against the most common strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), the cause of most cases of cervical cancers.
Beginning in September of 2008, all Texan girls entering the sixth grade (at about 11-12 years old) will receive the three shots of Gardasil needed to confer immunity, the AP reported.
Issuing an executive order allowed Perry, a Republican, to circumvent potential opposition in the state legislature from conservative groups who have voiced concern that routine HPV vaccination of young girls promotes premarital sex and interferes with parents' rights.
Perry has said, however, that he sees little difference between the cervical cancer vaccine and immunization against diseases such as polio.
The Texas move has gotten the backing of Gardasil's maker, Merck, which the AP says has doubled its lobbying budget in the state. According to the news agency, Merck could realize billions in sales if vaccination with Gardasil, which costs $360 for the three-shot regimen, is made mandatory for girls across the US. – (HealthDayNews)
Compulsory HPV vaccination
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