Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Should the State Mandate Another Vaccine?

That's the battle about to take place at the State House sometime this spring. State Senator Richard T. Moore, a Democrat from Uxbridge, has filed legislation, that if passed into law, would require all Massachusetts sixth grade girls to be vaccinated for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is a sexually-transmitted virus that is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 11,000 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year. Annually, close to 4,000 women die from cervival cancer. Last year, drug company Merck received FDA approval for Gardasil, the first anti-cancer vaccine in the United States. Gardasil claims to prevent cervival cancer by targeting two of the major strains of HPV. The controversy is that for the vaccine to be effective it must be administered to girls before they become sexually-active, thus the state proposal for sixth graders to be vaccinated.
Earlier this month, the governor of Texas signed into law a bill that would require girls in his state to be vaccinated. At least a half dozen other states are considering similiar laws, so the Bay State is not alone in pondering this health issue.
While the proposed legislation wouldl allow parents to opt their daughter out of the vaccine for religious reasons, some of the opponents to the legislation feel girls, ages 9-13, are just too young to have a conversation regarding sex and sexually-transmitted diseases.
In the January issue of Bay State Parent, local doctor Karen Sadler, outlined the pros and cons of this new vaccine for parents. You can read her analysis at:
In the December 2006 issue of Bay State Parent, Worcester-based doctor Mark Vining summarized all the new pre-teen vaccines now available, including this one. Read his report at:

Please read both our reports carefully, ponder how it would affect your daughter, call your pediatrician if you have more questions, & then let your state representative & senator know your thoughts.
Parents, not government, should have the final say on this vaccine.

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