Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 09:33 UK

Girls urged to abstain in jab row

Every secondary schoolgirl in the UK is to be offered the injections

Schoolgirls in Northern Ireland are to be offered a vaccination against cervical cancer.

It will protect girls aged between 12 and 17 from a sexually transmitted disease which can cause the cancer.

But some parents are not happy. Mary Russell of the Family Education Trust said parents should instead "encourage daughters to abstain from early sex".

Nurse Amanda McClean said it was not about "promoting sexual activity", but stopping cancer later in a girl's life.

Around 1,000 women die from cervical cancer in the UK each year.

The Cervarix vaccine works by targeting HPV, the virus which causes the cancer. Its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, said it should prevent 70% of cases.

There was some controversy over the decision to select Cervarix over another vaccine, Gardasil.

Some experts said Gardasil would have been a better option because it targets four strains of HPV - two responsible for cervical cancer and two causing genital warts.

Gardasil is used by the majority of vaccination programmes worldwide.

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