This is important news, and I am very glad that this program is starting. I hope they also offer it for free to 7th, 8th, 9th & 10th grade girls as well.
According to Ralph Blumenthal in today’s New York Times,
Under the order, girls and women from 9 to 21 eligible for public assistance could get free shots immediately. The governor’s office said parents could opt out of the school program “for reasons of conscience, including religious beliefs.”
Sexually transmitted virus can cause cervical cancer.
Gov. Rick Perry on Friday issued an executive order calling for all girls entering sixth grade in Texas, starting in September 2008, to receive a vaccine against a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. While Texas parents will be allowed to opt out of having their daughters get the vaccine, conservative groups are protesting.
Texas is the first state requiring girls to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, the country’s most common sexually transmitted disease.
Some strains of HPV cause cervical cancer, a disease that killed nearly 400 Texans in 2006, the governor’s office said.
“The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer,” Perry said. “Requiring young girls to get vaccinated before they come into contact with HPV is responsible health and fiscal policy that has the potential to significantly reduce cases of cervical cancer and mitigate future medical costs.”
But Cathie Adams, president of Texas Eagle Forum, a pro-family organization that opposes mandating the vaccine, said it gives girls false hope that sex is safe.
“We’re very unhappy because it’s not a crisis, because parental rights are being usurped and we believe young girls are being experimented upon,” Adams said. “Would they be more promiscuous? Chances are very good that they would be.”
Perry ordered that the vaccine be made immediately available to low-income Texans through the Texas Vaccines for Children and Medicaid programs.
That would cost $50 million in the first year: $29.4 million in state funds and the rest in federal funds, said Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody.
The market cost of the vaccine, Gardasil, is $360 for the three-dose series.
Federal officials approved the vaccine in June and added it to a list of recommended vaccines for girls. Most insurance companies cover vaccines
on that list.
Merck, the drug company that makes Gardasil, is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating the vaccine for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.
Perry received $6,000 from Merck’s political action committee during his
re-election campaign. And one of the drug company’s three lobbyists in
Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff.
“This is not a political issue,” Moody said. “This is an issue of women’s health.” State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, author of a bill proposing a
required HPV vaccine for girls, said Perry’s order is “terrific news.”
“A big chunk of my work is done,” said Farrar, who said she had precancerous cells removed a few years ago after having an abnormal Pap
smear. “I’m very excited he’s made this such a priority. This is going
to save so many lives. This is going to wipe out a cancer.”
Earlier this year, Perry proposed a $3 billion plan that he said he hopes will make Texas a world leader in cancer research.
Additional material from The Associated Press.
•The vaccine protects against four types of human papillomavirus, including
two that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers, which killed about
3,700 Americans in 2006.
•The shots also help prevent precancerous genital lesions and genital warts caused by HPV.
•The FDA has said the shots are safe and effective. They have been tested on thousands of girls and young women.
•The vaccine is less expensive than treating cervical cancer.
•Some conservatives say young girls will be more likely to have sex if they’re vaccinated.
•Critics say the vaccine has not been tested widely enough.
•Some say the mandate interferes with parental rights.
Source for pros: CDC
|Find this article at:http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/legislature/02/03/3hpv.html|