Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Parents Sue TX Governor Perry Over HPV Vaccination Requirement; NY Times Editorial Supports Perry
A group of parents filed a lawsuit on Friday claiming that Texas Governor Rick Perry overstepped his authority by ordering mandatory HPV vaccinations for Texas schoolgirls:
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered that all of the state's middle-school-aged girls be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, the backlash was swift and sure.
Critics argued that the executive order promoted promiscuity, trampled on parental rights and subjected children to a new vaccine with unknown long-term effects.
Texas lawmakers, unhappy that Perry sidestepped their authority, pushed a bill through committee that would rescind the mandate. Cosigned by 90 of 150 members of the state House of Representatives, it is all but certain to pass.
And on Friday, the unidentified parents of three Texas girls sued Perry for overstepping his authority and illegally requiring the vaccine for preteens.
The hullabaloo is a setback for public health advocates in Texas, which with Perry's Feb. 2 order became the first state to require the vaccine for school admission, beginning in 2008.
Read Texas HPV vaccine mandate meets swift resistance.
The New York Times thinks mandatory vaccinations are good public policy:
We have endorsed a mandate because the vaccine — Merck’s Gardasil — looks highly effective against strains that cause 70 percent of all cervical cancer. With more than two million doses already distributed, the reported side effects have been mostly minor, such as dizziness or fainting. Many parents who oppose a mandate are aghast at the thought of vaccinating such young girls against a sexually transmitted disease. But the vaccine works only if taken before a girl becomes infected. Social conservatives object that the vaccine will encourage promiscuity, but it seems farfetched to believe that protection from cervical cancer will change any girl’s behavior. Others complain that a mandate will pre-empt parental rights to make health decisions, but all vaccine mandates do that, to protect the children and those they might infect.
. . . The vaccine could prevent thousands of new cases of cervical cancer annually and hundreds of thousands of cases of genital warts and precancerous growths. A mandate would force the health care system to get cracking. And it is the best way to ensure that all children get the vaccine, not just those who are aware of it and can afford it.
Read the full NYT editorial, A Necessary Vaccine. See related posts: Merck and the Debate Over Mandatory HPV Vaccinations; More on HPV Vaccinations; Mandatory HPV Vaccinations for Texas Schoolgirls.