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The state-run National Health Service began offering the Cervarix vaccine to teenage girls last year, and more than 1.4 million doses of the vaccine have been given out so far under the program. The virus is often transmitted through sexual intercourse and authorities wanted to give the vaccine to girls as young as 13 so they are protected by the time they become sexually active.
The cervical cancer vaccine is routinely administered to millions of young girls across Europe and North America. No safety concerns about the vaccines have been raised elsewhere.
"As with any medical intervention ... one can, on rare occasions, see tragic consequences," said Professor Malcolm McCrae, virologist at the University of Warwick. "But overall this is an extremely well-tested vaccine which has been produced in response to a critical health issue -- cervical cancer -- a disease responsible for almost 1,000 deaths annually in the UK."
Dr. Pim Kon, medical director at GlaxoSmithKline UK, said in a statement that the company is working with the Health Department and health regulators to investigate the case and that the exact cause of death was not yet known.
GlaxoSmithKline shares were down 0.68 percent at 1,243 pence ($19.78) on the London Stock Exchange late Tuesday.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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