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AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry signed an order today making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.
By issuing an executive order, Perry apparently sidesteps opposition in the Legislature from conservatives and parents' rights groups who fear such a requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way parents raise their children.
Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade will have to get Gardasil, Merck & Co.'s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.