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Merck abandons vaccine campaign

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Drug manufacturer Merck & Co. released a new vaccine to prevent cervical cancer called Gardasil, which actually vaccinates against HPV or the herpes virus, a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer.

According to the Associated Press, Merck has been quietly pushing a campaign through a third party to encourage schools to require vaccination among 11- and 12-year-old girls.

Problems have arisen among parents and others who take issue with schools requiring parents to vaccinate their daughters for a sexually transmitted disease. Some argue that the requirement of such a vaccination would essentially condone sex for girls. They fear that such a precedent would encourage sexual promiscuity and reckless behavior.

As a result, Merck has apparently called off the campaign to promote the vaccine as a requirement for sixth grade girls.

Gardasil is the first and only vaccine approved in the U.S. to protect against two strains of HPV, which account for 70 percent of cervical cancer. The vaccine is indicated for use in girls and women aged 9 to 26.

Merck has been in the news repeatedly due to the Vioxx painkiller scandal, and the high number of lawsuits against the company because of this defective drug.