Texas governor proposes mandatory vaccine

By Nicole Osuch
February 22, 2007

Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT

State lawmakers in 20 states are currently considering making the only cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil, which protects against the human papillomavirus, mandatory for preteen girls.

According to gardasil.com the vaccine guards against HPV Types 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, and HPV Types 6 and 11, which cause 90 percent of genital warts cases.

The Gardasil vaccination is recommended for girls between the ages of 11 and 26, before they become sexually active.

In our hands, we have a way to prevent girls from the leading cause of cervical cancer, which happens to also be the second most deadly cancer suffered by women, and I think that parents and women should be very excited about this medical breakthrough.

Governor Rick Perry from Texas along with many other legislators has proposed a bill that all girls who will be entering the sixth grade in September 2008 should be vaccinated. Exceptions were allotted for parents who choose to not consent due to religious or medical reasons.

What concerns critics is the fact that Perry has ties to Merck, the manufacturer of Gardasil. Merck contributed money to Perry’s re-election campaign. In addition, Perry’s current chief of staff’s mother-in-law is a state director for Women in Government.

Even more suspicious, the governor’s former chief of staff is now a lobbyist for Merck.

Merck has given money to Women in Government to help push the authorization of Gardasil to all preteen girls. If the bill passes, Merck could make millions.

Opponents of the bill say that it interferes with the way parents raise their children and it sends the message that premarital sex is morally right.

I feel that they are missing a key point about HPV and that is that doctors report that you do not have to have intercourse to contract the virus.

The virus can be contracted from any sexual activity that involves contact with the genital area.

Other critics of the vaccine say that people get the HPV virus as a result of individual actions and they can prevent getting infected by not engaging in sexual activities with an infected person.

The scary and alarming part about HPV is that a person can have the virus and not even know it and pass it on to someone else.

In response to parents who have a religious stance on the vaccine and argue that they do not think the vaccine is necessary for their 12-year-old daughter because they are waiting for marriage

I still feel that it is a good idea for them to get vaccinated because who is to say that her future husband is not a carrier of the virus and she will not get HPV despite waiting until marriage.

The vaccine is given as three injections over a six-month period of time.

I feel that by parents getting their preteen daughters the vaccine that works when administered before any contact with HPV Types 6, 11, 16 and 18 they are protecting them from getting cervical cancer and genital warts even before they are at the age to worry about such things.

I don’t believe that preteens are too young to get this vaccine.

I can’t imagine any parent who would not want to protect their daughter from cervical cancer.

I stand with Governor Perry on his proposal. Governor Perry may not have had the right motives but he definitely has the right idea.

Nicole Osuch

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