All preteen girls should be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, a federal panel recommended Thursday.
Gardasil is the first vaccine marketed to prevent cancer. It protects against the human papilloma virus, or HPV, which causes 70 percent of cervical cancers. About 4,000 women die each year from cervical cancer in the United States, a number scientists say can be reduced dramatically if the HPV vaccine is used routinely. The vaccine works best if given before girls become sexually active. Since about 25 percent of teenage boys and girls have had sex by age 15, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended that girls receive the three-shot vaccine series around age 11 or 12, at a time when children are receiving other routine immunizations.
The shots could be started as young as age 9, the panel said. The committee also voted to include the HPV shots in the Vaccines for Children program, which pays for immunizations for uninsured kids.
For more details on the vaccine, see the U.S.News article "Sticking it to Cancer".