Gardasil: Who should get it?

Indiana lawmakers have watered down a bill to vaccinate 6th grade girls against a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer.

"This is a vaccine for cancer. It's the first vaccine we've ever had for cancer," says one unidentified male.

"I just wonder how, in good conscience, we could approve a mandate that would require mass vaccination and has not had enough proving time to find out what the long term affects are," states an unidentified female.

The new version calls for simply sending home information about the link between human papilloma virus and cervical cancer and telling parents a vaccine is available.

And one Spencer County woman hopes they'll get the message.

Jennifer Bylery describes, "I had not one symptom."

She thought the results of her last pap smear would be normal, same as always. Instead, her doctor told her she had human papilloma virus. "She immediately informed me I had two lesions already in my cervix."

With that, she joined the estimated 75 percent of women who'll have at least one HPV infection in their lifetimes. "So, unfortunately, I'm in a big club of women."

Ten thousand will get cervical cancer; more than a third will die. Those number may soon plummet now that a new HPV vaccine is available.

Pediatrician Dolly Schutte Marx, MD says, "To have the chance to prevent cancer, I mean, that's kind of a novel thing."

Gardasil protects against four types of HPV; the ones that cause 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts.

The vaccine is most effective if girls get it well before they become sexually active. Middle school age is ideal; a recommendation that's troubling for some parents.

Dr. Marx says, "I tend to tell people, it's just a decision that you have to make. But you have to consider that even if your child only has one sexual partner in their lifetime, sometimes the person they choose to be their partner has had other sexual partners, so [they] could have been exposed to HPV sometime in their life."

Jennifer Byerly hopes her story is a cautionary one. She avoided cancer but paid a huge price. Surgery on her cervix will likely cost her her fertility. "What a sad thing; a vaccine could have kept me in the loop for maybe someday having a child of my own."

Gardasil is recommended for girls age 9 to 26. They'll need three doses of the vaccine, costing $258 a piece. Luckily, many insurance companies will pay for it.