Law Requiring Sixth Grade Girls To Receive HPV Vaccination Shoul Be Repealed

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Washington, D.C., City Council Members Yvette Alexander and Muriel Bowser recently said they want to repeal a law that requires girls entering the sixth grade to receive a human papillomavirus vaccine, the Washington Post reports. The City Council in April voted 7-3 to approve the bill, and Mayor Adrian Fenty subsequently signed it into law (Stewart, Washington Post, 9/14).

The law will require female students to show proof of vaccination before enrolling in the sixth grade in District of Columbia Public Schools,unless their parent or legal guardian chooses to "opt out" of the requirement. Girls will be able to opt out of the requirement for any reason. The law also will require a parent education program. After many parents objected to the measure, the council adopted amendments that postponed implementation of the program until fall 2009. Officials in April said they plan to launch a citywide education program to inform residents about HPV and the vaccine and to facilitate the program's opt-out process (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 4/23).

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Alexander and Bowser said they are not convinced that the city should be involved in requiring young girls to be vaccinated with Merck's HPV vaccine Gardasil, which FDA approved in June 2006. "People are saying it's a wonder drug," Bowser said,asking, "Based on what?" Alexander said, "I think certain things government should be left out of."

City Council members Mary Cheh and David Catania, sponsors of the bill, said they object to any effort to repeal the law. "In this upcoming year's budget, we have funded a very public awareness campaign," Catania said, adding that Alexander and Bowser need to do more research. "When they do, they'll see that the council's vote was the right one," Cheh said. According to the Post, repealing the law might require that a proposal go to the health committee headed by Catania (Washington Post, 9/14).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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