June 9, 2006
A new cervical cancer vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration is raising concerns among parents. They're not sure how soon is too soon for their teens to get vaccinated.
The vaccine, Gardasil, is primarily for girls and women between ages nine and 26. It prevents the sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus or HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer. But although they know that it could help, some parents are skeptical about when their young daughters should be vaccinated. Some say it might encourage more risky sex and other simply don't understand the virus itself enough to understand the vaccine. But Becky Reid of Planned Parenthood believes it's just as important as any other vaccine.
"We really need to make sure this vaccine is administered before the onset of sexual activity to prevent the most dangerous strains of the Human Papilloma Virus, which results in 70 percent of the cases we see for cervical cancer," said Reid.
Now that the drug is approved, the FDA still has to decide how to use it and where it will be distributed. The Centers for Disease Control will decide whether or not it will be mandatory.
If used correctly, experts believe the new vaccine could save some 3,500 lives a year in the U.S. alone and prevent 70 percent of cervical cancer cases worldwide.