European Union member states should make vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) --a major cause of cervical cancer--mandatory for all girls aged 11-12 years, states an Editorial in this week's issue of The Lancet.
The European Commission last week licensed the first HPV vaccine, Gardasil, for use in children aged 9–15 years and women aged 16–26 years. The vaccine offers protection against HPV types 16 and 18, responsible for 70% of all cervical cancers, and types 6 and 11, which cause about 90% of cases of genital warts. Following earlier approval by the US Food and Drug Administration of the vaccine in girls and women, the Michigan Senate passed a bill on Sept 21 ruling that all girls entering the sixth grade of school (11–12 year-olds) should be immunised.
The Lancet comments: "This is the first legislation of its kind in the USA, and a decision from which the EU member states should take heed…. For effective and long-term eradication of HPV, all adolescents must be immunised. Data from the vaccine trials in boys are urgently needed; in the mean time, EU member states should lead by making the vaccinations mandatory for all girls aged 11–12 years."
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