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CDC panel: Girls
should get cervical cancer vaccine

CDC panel: Girls
should get cervical cancer vaccine

All young girls ages 11 and 12 should take Merck's vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, as should 13- to 26-years-olds if they have not received it already, U.S. advisers decided on Thursday. The vote of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is not binding but guides decisions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which in turn advises schools, insurers, and individuals.

In a complicated vote, the committee agreed to recommend the vaccine for three age groups--all young girls ages 11 and 12; girls and women ages 13 to 26 who have not yet received the vaccine; and women who have had abnormal Pap smears, genital warts, or certain other conditions.

And at their discretion physicians could vaccinate girls as young as 9, the panel decided.

Earlier this month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed Gardasil for use in women and girls 9 to 26 years of age. It protects against four types of human papillomavirus. The idea is to vaccinate girls before they ever get infected with HPV.

The approval could make for blockbuster sales for Merck, with some analysts predicting annual sales of more than $3 billion within the next few years. (Reuters)

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