According to the Department of Health plans, school girls as young as 12 could be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease, which can cause cervical cancer. Researchers have found that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is one of the key causes of cervical cancer, which kills around 1,000 women a year.
Schoolgirls could be immunized against the human papilloma virus (HPV) before they become sexually active under an NHS-funded mass vaccination scheme. School nurses would give the vaccine in two to three doses, with protection lasting about 10 years.
The Government's advisers, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, are studying proposals for the NHS to fund a mass vaccination scheme for girls aged 12 to 13. The jabs could eventually replace the screening programme where women are called in for a smear test every three years to check for early signs of cervical cancer.
The plans are being considered by Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, but will prove controversial among parents. Some fear the vaccines could encourage girls to have unprotected sex at a very young age. Other parents have expressed concerns that children are being overburdened with vaccines.
HPV: Human Papilloma Virus is of 100 different types; some of them cause warts on the hands and feet, 30 of them could be transmitted sexually and can cause genital warts or abnormal cell changes in the cervix.
It is reported by centers for Diseases Control and Prevention that more than 20 million Americans are infected with HPV and nearly 6.2 million people will get the new infection next year.