[JURIST] Texas Senator Jane Nelson (R) [official website], Chairwoman of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission [official website], urged Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] Tuesday to rescind his executive order making Texas the first US state to require that girls be vaccinated [JURIST report] for the human papilloma virus (HPV) [US CDC fact sheet], which is the primary cause of cervical cancer. Gov. Rick Perry's order [text], which directs the state Department of Health and Human Services [official website] to promulgate rules mandating the vaccinations for girls entering the sixth grade next year, was issued in early February 2007 amongst strong opposition [Houston Chronicle report]. Nelson's concerns [press release] about the order are shared by other leading Republicans who believe that lawmakers should have been allowed to hear from doctors, scientists and patients before the state implemented such a sweeping mandate. Nelson commented that "We're moving way too fast. I would ask, very respectfully, our Governor to reconsider. This is something that we need to take time discussing, getting answers to, how we're going to pay for it." Three other Republican lawmakers filed bills that would override the Gov. Perry's mandate, and several others have promised to introduce similar legislation. Gov. Perry defended his mandate [press release], stating:
Never before have we had an opportunity to prevent cancer with a simple vaccine. While I understand the concerns expressed by some, I stand firmly on the side of protecting life. The HPV vaccine does not promote sex, it protects womens health. Finally, parents need to know that they have the final decision about whether or not their daughter is vaccinated. I am a strong believer in protecting parental rights, which is why this executive order allows them to opt out.Legislatures in nearly a dozen other states are considering whether to mandate HPV vaccinations. Among them are California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin [media reports]. The vaccination proposals are controversial because of the sexually transmitted nature of HPV. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, affecting some 20 million people at any time. In January, the American Cancer Society recommended routine HPV vaccination [article text] for girls 11 to 12 years old. While also recommending vaccination for girls 13 to 19, the Society found insufficient evidence to support routine vaccination for women as old as 26. AP has more.