Lawmakers discuss requiring cervical cancer vaccine
A House committee hearing on a bill to override Gov. Rick Perry's order requiring schoolgirls to get the HPV vaccine stretched into early Tuesday without a vote.
Supporters and opponents of the plan lined up Monday night to address the House public health committee about the controversial vaccine mandate. The committee heard six hours of testimony on the bill but decided to adjourn early Tuesday morning without voting.
Few medical professionals debate that the HPV virus causes about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. But several are in debate on whether or not there is enough evidence to show that the vaccine is safe.
"We don't know the total safety of it out in the general population, we don't know how long the immunity lasts," opponent Dr. Linda Flowers said.
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Many lawmakers oppose the vaccine requirement because they believe it contradicts Texas' abstinence-only sex education policies and strays too far into the lives of families. Others have balked at the $360 cost for the three-shot series and say the vaccine is too new.
Proponents of Perry's plan say preventing the deadly cancer should be the top priority. Some doctors disagree that the vaccine promotes promiscuity.
"There is no reason to think that this vaccine is going to spur children to become sexually active. Most parents children and adults don't even know about HPV,” supporter Dr. Kimberly Carter said.
Bill author Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said he doesn’t want the support of his bill to be a statement against Perry or his policies. He said he's against the mandate because the vaccine has not been properly tested. The FDA approved the drug eight months ago, which he said is hardly enough time to see its long term effects.
"We’ve told you it’s right, it’s safe, it’s appropriate. Quite frankly, we’re almost sending the message, in my opinion, that if you don't do this vaccination than there must be something wrong," Bonnen said.
There is still more debate to come from lawmakers and the public on the mandated vaccine. Despite the executive order, it seems lawmakers could have a say in it after all.