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Commentary

My order protects life: Vaccine mandate will prevent deaths, give parents the final word
USA Today, 2-9-07

Governor Perry defends his decision to issue an executive order requiring HPV vaccinations for 6th grade girls in his state:

As governor of Texas, I will do everything in my power to protect public health. The executive order I signed last Friday will help stop the spread of human papillomavirus (HPV) and prevent cervical cancer in young women.

Some are focused on the cause of this cancer, but I remain focused on the cure. And if I err, I will always err on the side of protecting life.

For the first time in history, a vaccine exists that can prevent a deadly cancer—the second most common form of cancer in women. The HPV vaccine is approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a second vaccine is expected on the market within the next year.

Research shows that the HPV vaccine is highly effective in protecting women against the four leading cancer–causing strains of HPV. Though some might argue that we should wait several years before requiring the vaccine, I believe such a delay unnecessarily risks the lives of young women.

This is not the first vaccine Texas has required for a non–contagious disease. Years ago, Texas required inoculations to prevent the spread of Hepatitis B, spread primarily through sexual contact or shared needles.

Even with this new requirement, parents can still choose to opt out. But we will never eradicate a disease that impacts 20 million Americans with an "opt in" provision because statistics show only one–quarter of the eligible population gets inoculated in such circumstances. The "opt out" provision—standard for all Texas vaccinations—will help us protect three–quarters of our young women.

The Houston Chronicle, however, argues that "Perry would have served everyone better by letting the Legislature fully debate a mandatory vaccine's logistical, financial and legal facets. By steamrolling over the democratic process, he has crushed some of the vaccine's public support."



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