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Fasano to postpone vaccine requirement

Associated Press
Published February 20, 2007


TALLAHASSEE - State Sen. Mike Fasano, who proposed requiring 11- and 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated against a virus that can cause cervical cancer, said Monday he would delay the requirement another year to satisfy concerns about the vaccine's safety.

The New Port Richey Republican's proposal (SB 660) to require the new vaccine before the 2008-09 school year, which is being pushed nationwide by the maker of the vaccine, has run into concerns about forcing families to discuss sexually transmitted diseases with their daughters before they may be ready.

Some parents also have questioned the long-term safety of the vaccine, and conservative groups have raised concerns that vaccinating young girls against a sexually transmitted disease could send the signal that it's okay to have sex.

"I want to try and ease the concerns of many involving the safety," Fasano said.

He also said most other states will probably require the vaccine by the 2009-10 school year, and that may make Florida parents more comfortable.

The measure would first require middle schools give all 11- and 12-year-old girls information about the human papilloma virus and its link to cervical cancer. The virus, known as HPV, is primarily spread through sexual contact. The bill also would require 11- or 12-year-old girls to get the vaccine to enroll in school, although families could opt out.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine in June; an advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended it be given to girls and women ages 9 through 26.

Fasano and other proponents of the vaccine say concerns are misplaced. "Here's an opportunity to save lives," said Fasano. "That's the bottom line to me."

[Last modified February 20, 2007, 01:17:01]

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