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Perry's vaccine order not in the best interest of state, Hegar says

Brenham Banner Press | February 6, 2007

AUSTIN - State Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) said he intends to file legislation to reverse Gov. Perry's Executive Order that mandates every girl ages 11 and 12 be given multiple doses of a cervical cancer vaccine.

Perry's order would make Texas the first state to mandate the vaccine even though Merck, the manufacturer, is still conducting research trials to determine its benefits.

“Cancer is a devastating disease that has a tremendous impact on our state and our nation. My own life has been tragically impacted by the loss of family and friends from this terrible disease and that is why I fully support the efforts of our great medical research teams to find meaningful solutions to eradicating all forms of cancer,” Hegar said.

“Unfortunately, Gov. Perry's executive order mandating that 11 and 12 year old children receive the Gardisil vaccine or not be able to attend school is not in the best interest of our state, nor in the interests of Texas parents and their children.”

Hegar said Perry's order takes away parent's rights to make medical decisions for their children and usurps parental authority, sets a dangerous precedent and forces parents who object to their young daughters receiving the vaccine to utilize a so-called “opt out” clause.

“This vaccine should be made available for those parents who want it for their daughter, but it should not be forced upon those who don't,” said Hegar. “Parents should be allowed to opt-in on behalf of their children. No parent should be forced to opt-out.”

Hegar also said he has grave concerns over the lasting effects of the vaccine. The Gardisil vaccine, he said, was only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last June and that the clinical trials for the vaccine were still ongoing.

Merck is still uncertain as to whether the vaccine will lose its effect over time, which Hegar said may cause an uniformed pubic to engage in risky behavior because they think they are no longer in danger of contracting the HPV virus.

Hegar said that an even greater risk is that the Gardisil vaccine protects against only four strains of the HPV virus that can cause cervical cancer, while the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 100 strains of HPV can cause genital warts and that 30 sexually transmitted high risk strains can cause cancer of the cervix.

“Gov. Perry's mandated vaccine may only lessen the risk and does not prevent women from getting cervical cancer,” Hegar added.

“Forcing all Texas 11 and 12 year old girls to receive the Gardisil vaccine is completely out of line with the longstanding history of why children in the United States are required to receive nine vaccines for 13 different diseases

“Unlike, all of the other mandated vaccines in Texas, Gardisil will not eliminate a preventable disease in our state. Instead, parents will be given a false hope that their daughters will never contract cervical cancer, which is a grave injustice to these young girls and their families.”

Hegar added that the high cost of the Gardisil would make it unaffordable for many Texas families and that even those women and girls who receive it must still have regular PAP screening in order to determine if they are at risk for cervical cancer.

More education and clinical study of the vaccine is necessary before its use is mandated in Texas, he said.

Some physicians are urging a cautious approach with the vaccine, Hegar added.

“It is my firm belief that Gov. Perry was well intentioned when he issued his executive order, but I do not believe that he has fully considered the false sense of safety that his mandate will create for the young girls who will be required to take this vaccine and their families,” he said.

“I also do not believe that he has fully considered the threat to parental authority created by this mandate. It is my hope that the governor will reconsider his executive order and instead work with the Texas Legislature to develop a sound health policy that provides the tools and information parents and their daughters need to lessen the risk of cervical cancer in our state.”



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