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(MSNBC)-AUSTIN, Texas - Some conservatives and parents’ rights groups worry that requiring girls to get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way they raise their children.
By using an executive order that bypassed the Legislature, Republican Gov. Rick Perry — himself a conservative — on Friday avoided such opposition, making Texas the first state to mandate that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the virus.
Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade will have to receive Gardasil, Merck & Co.’s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.
Perry also directed state health authorities to make the vaccine available free to girls 9 to 18 who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines. In addition, he ordered that Medicaid offer Gardasil to women ages 19 to 21.