Federal health advisers say eleven- and 12-year-old girls should be routinely vaccinated against the sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer.
Federal health officials usually follow the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Its suggestions also influence insurance coverage for vaccinations.
The group says the shots can start for girls as young as nine. It also recommends a "catch-up" vaccination for women 13-to-26 who have never been vaccinated.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine specifically for preventing cancer this month. Merck's Gardasil protects against strains of the human papilloma virus, or H-P-V. The disease causes cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers and genital warts.
Some health officials were expecting a fight from religious conservatives on the grounds that vaccinating youngsters might promote sex. The issue never materialized at the advisory group's public meetings.
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