I wrote about this issue once before. I am very glad that I got the vaccine and I hope that other states will do what Texas has done. Health care is more important than scaring girls into being celibate.
Here’s the update:
Some pediatricians say last year’s controversy over whether the state should mandate Texas schoolgirls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus has translated into more individuals getting the vaccine.
“It’s really kind of an interesting thing – the controversy has really helped us get the word out,” said Chris Turley, vice chair for clinical services at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Pediatrics Department.
“We really do have moms coming and asking for it. … People forget about the tetanus shot because it’s been around forever, but they come in knowing about this and wanting it for their daughters.”
Since July, Galveston-based UTMB pediatric clinics have been administering about 60 doses a month, Turley said.
Gov. Rick Perry set off a political furor last year by ordering that girls get the vaccine, which protects against a handful of HPV strains that cause cervical cancer. His action irritated conservatives and the Republican-controlled Legislature later undid his executive order.
Texas would have been the first state to require the immunizations.
Since then, the Virginia and New Jersey legislatures passed a school vaccine requirement, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.
HPV infects about 20 million people in the United States with 6.2 million new cases each year, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Perry’s office said he is pleased his actions have prompted Texas families to talk about the vaccine.
“As the numbers are showing, many girls are being vaccinated, and the governor views that as a positive result of generating this debate in Texas and throughout the nation,” Krista Piferrer said.
Though Perry can’t legally order the HPV vaccine for schoolgirls for at least three more years, Piferrer said he hasn’t given up the fight.
“The governor still believes this is a valuable tool to protect young girls against cancer,” she said.
UTMB pediatrics professor Dr. Martin Myers said there are still some unanswered questions – such as who would pay for the cost of the vaccine and what sort of demand would it create on its manufacturer – that still make the idea of mandating the vaccine premature.
There was a “considerable interest in the vaccine” in 2007, said Jack Sims, immunization branch manager of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
He did not have information about how many Texans were vaccinated last year, but he said the state was collecting that information for the first time in a survey to be released this spring.