Before the end of the decade, preteens going to the doctor for the usual booster shots—tetanus, diphtheria, and perhaps an annual flu shot—may get a new jab. The vaccine would not only protect them against one of the most common sexually transmitted infections but also prevent cervical cancer—almost eliminating that form of malignancy, in fact, and saving the lives of nearly a quarter million women worldwide each year. But even before studies of the vaccine’s effectiveness are complete, conservative Christian groups are expressing concerns about inoculating adolescents against sexually transmitted infections. A study published in the November 13 issue of British medical journal The Lancet showed that women who received all three doses of the vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, maintained a strong immune response against the virus that causes cervical cancer, and that this immunity lasts for at least two years. The vaccine is one of two being developed against cervical cancer; Merck makes the second. “It’s fabulous,” says Diane Harper, who directed the study and who heads research on prevention of gynecological cancer at Dartmouth Medical School. “It’s safe, it’s easy to make, and it’s amazingly effective.” Both the Merck and GlaxoSmithKline vaccines target human papillomavirus, or HPV, the virus that… Read full this story
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