Texas Mandates HPV Vaccine for 11- and 12-year-old girls

The news from the sex wars is interesting this morning, and the fronts are more complicated than we often remember.

This morning’s New York Times reports that Republican Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, signed an executive order mandating HPV vaccination for girls entering 6th grade. (Parents can opt out for personal or religious reasons.)

This accomplishes a couple of important things:

1. Becasue the vaccine is mandated, the state has to pay for it for any girls who qualify for public assistance.

2. This will apply to anyone for whom the vaccine is recommended, so that means that all girls and women between 9 and 26 can get the vaccine, provided by the state, if they qualify for public assistance.

3. By bypassing the legislative process and doing this by executive order– something I wouldn’t always advocate — the Governor took control of the framing of debate on the issue. In his words:

“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.”

In other words, this isn’t about the sexual activity of young girls. This is about preventative medicine, public health and fiscal responsibility. Bravo Governor Perry! (The New York Times also notes that his move “saved legislators from having to go on record for or against a bill involving child sexuality.“)

Then too, given the Texas legislature’s recent proposal on sex ed, perhaps this was also a way of protecting kids from a potentially dangerous policy! A sort of conservative “have your cake and eat it too”: We won’t mandate comprehensive sex ed, but at least your kid won’t get cancer as a result of not having enough information.

You might recall that at the end of November I blogged about New Hampshire becoming the first state to offer the vaccines for free. Now we have two states, Texas and New Hampshire, both independent-conservative type places, that have made big public-program-type statements supporting the sexual health of girls and women.

As I said, the fronts are clearly much more complicated than we often think. But all this certainly does make me wonder what the left-leaning states doing regarding the HPV vaccine? And why are they doing it so slowly?


Filed under News and politics, public discourse, sex, sex and health, sexuality and age

4 responses to “Texas Mandates HPV Vaccine for 11- and 12-year-old girls

  1. I certainly hope women get better preventive sexual health treatment early in life. But there’s one point on which I’d be cautious. I’m old enough to remember thalidimide; the U.S. took a lot of heat for not approving it, only to be vindicated later when it was discovered that the drug caused serious birth defects.

    The new vaccine is new. There is a small (but real) chance that it causes some as-yet-unkown side effect. Therefore, until we have considerably more experience with its long-term effects, I think that vaccination should not be mandatory, but should be a matter of parental choice.

  2. I agree completely with Tamino. I’m all about ensuring the safety of girls whenever possible, but I’m also incredibly wary of new medicine, especially new vaccines. If I had a daughter I wouldn’t have her get this, not because I wanted to control her sexuality but because the vaccine is simply too knew to go into my daughter.

  3. These are important considerations, especially given the lax oversight that the FDA has demonstrated in clinical trials of other drugs recently (or, if not the lax oversight, then the cunning deception of the drug companies). There are other things we don’t yet know about Gardasil, too. For example, we don’t know how long the protection lasts. Another reason to keep studying the drug.

  4. i’m glad the vaccine is available, i like that the state has to pay for vaccinations for children on public assistance, but otherwise, this is a stupid law and i’m just a bit ticked off that people are promoting it.

    also, technically speaking, vaccines are not drugs. but i do agree that the fda has a lot of problems. if i were queen of the united states, i’d redesign agency thoroughly.