Wednesday, February 7, 2007
More on HPV Vaccinations
Following up on Monday's post regarding mandatory HPV vaccinations for girls: The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Report includes a round-up today of more states considering legislation to require the vaccine for teenage girls (more than 20 states have considered such bills so far). The report notes that
FDA in July 2006 approved Gardasil [an HPV vaccine] for sale and marketing to girls and women ages nine to 26, and CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices later that month voted unanimously to recommend that girls ages 11 and 12 receive the vaccine.
According to the CDC, the vaccine has been proven nearly 100% effective in preventing the four strains of HPV that account for 70% of cervical cancers. It is striking that many of the states considering these bills otherwise favor severe restrictions on teenage girls' access to reproductive health services and information (including access to contraceptive information and services, which would serve to reduce unintended pregnancies and, thus, the need for abortions).
In Texas, some legislators are demanding that Governor Perry rescind his executive order requiring the vaccine, and even a former state district judge is weighing in on Perry's action.
Listen to an NPR segment on the issue of mandatory HPV vaccinations.
This post gives me the opportunity to ask a question about the HPV vaccine that has been bugging me: does anyone think there is any legal significance (Title IX, Equal Protection) to the fact that, according to the proposals, only girls will be required to be vaccinated? I understand that only girls get cervical cancer, and that the vaccine has apparently only been approved for girls. But still, are there any arguments that a single-sex vaccine is inappropriate? Boys can get certain rare cancers from HPV, and they can be carriers who transmit the virus to girls who, for whatever reason, have not been immunized, which would seem to undermine the potential for herd immunity. Any thoughts on this?
Posted by: Jessie Hill | Feb 8, 2007 6:02:41 PM