Virginia House Votes to Delay HPV Vaccine Mandate

by Barbara Loe Fisher

On Jan. 15, a House health subcommittee in the Virginia legislature voted 13-9 along party lines to approve legislation introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall (R) to delay until the fall of 2010 implementation of a new HPV vaccine mandate approved by the legislature and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) last year. Governor Kaine disagreed with the move to push back the date because he said that parents can "opt-out" of giving the vaccine to their daughters for any reason. It is anticipated that the bill to delay the HPV vaccine mandate deadline for implementation will face stronger opposition in the Senate.

The bill to delay the HPV vaccine mandate in Virginia was supported by parent groups concerned about rushing an HPV vaccine mandate when serious adverse events following administration of Merck's GARDASIL to young girls continue to be reported. Since GARDASIL was licensed in 2006, serious health problems reported to VAERS and NVIC include sudden loss of consciousness, seizures/convulsions, head injuries and fractures, Guillain Barre syndrome, joint swelling, blood disorders, abnormal cervical smears, spontaneous abortions and other adverse outcomes following receipt of GARDASIL. VHOME.htm

Parents opposed to the Virginia HPV vaccine mandate also question whether most parents will be informed there is an "opt-out" provision which does not require filing a medical or religious exemption and whether the bureaucratic process for "opting-out" will be easy or complicated. There have been no clear guidelines issued for how the "opt-out" process will work.

The Virginia legislature stands alone as the only state government to mandate GARDASIL vaccine. Every other state has rejected proposed mandates aggressively pushed by Merck last year. Major medical organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association, have declined HPV vaccine mandates in favor of legislation encouraging parent/child education about HPV infection and the vaccine, as well as cost reimbursement for those families who want their daughters to get vaccinated voluntarily.

An American Cancer Society official was quoted as saying "It is one thing to endorse the use of a vaccine against cervical cancer, but altogether another thing to require children to get it."

In the 1970's, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that doctors give children 23 doses of 7 vaccines (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, polio) and most state legislatures mandated 4 or 5 of them for school entry. With the addition of 3 doses of HPV vaccine for girls, by 2008, CDC recommendations directed doctors to give children 56 doses of 16 vaccines (girls) or 53 doses of 15 vaccines (boys).

Most states in America currently mandate about 10 of the federally recommended vaccines (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, HIB, hepatitis B, chickenpox) for school attendance. Some states are also instituting daycare and school mandates for pneumococcal, meningococcal, hepatitis A and influenza vaccines.

The New Jersey health department, under rule making authority handed over by the state legislature, recently imposed new pneumococcal and influenza vaccine mandates on children attending daycare as well as meningococcal and Tdap vaccine requirements for children attending middle school. New Jersey becomes the first state to mandate influenza vaccine and also the state with the highest number of mandated vaccinations for children: 35 doses of 13 vaccines.

The more vaccines state governments mandate, the greater the potential for a backlash from parents weary of their children being made pincushions by federal health officials who automatically recommend for universal use every vaccine the pharmaceutical industry creates for children. HPV vaccine - whether marketed by Merck or GlaxoSmithKline - should not be mandated. The ACA spokesperson is right: it is one thing to make HPV vaccine available for those voluntarily choosing to use it. It is quite another matter to force HPV vaccine on a child under threat of exclusion from school, particularly without the voluntary, informed consent of the child's parents.

"Legislation passed by a House committee would stall Virginia's unique requirement that girls be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, or HPV, to fall 2010, instead of fall 2009.....Gov. Tim Kaine said yesterday that he didn't think it should be pushed back because of the opt-out clause, but that he won't stand in the way if that is what legislators want. "It is available and yet no one is required for any reason to get it," Mr. Kaine said. "Since it really is an opt-in, I don't know that we need to push it back." Several national medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics, support giving the vaccine to girls but have not endorsed mandates. "It is one thing to endorse the use of a vaccine against cervical cancer, but altogether another to require children to get it," said Robert A. Smith, director of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society. Mr. Smith and others said it would have been better for Virginia to promote education on the vaccine and for funding to ensure availability for those who want it, rather than require it. " - Dena Potter, Associated Press, January 16, 2008


colleen said...

Thanks for this informative article. I just posted about vaccines today.

Hannah said...

Youre blog is a valuable resource (even though I am half a world away), thankyou.

I am going to link to you, I hope you dont mind

Jerinda said...

I don't have a comment on this blog entry in particular, just in general. I am a mommy in Missouri who just found your blog. I have decided to delay my one year old son's shot indefinitely. I just wanted to say kudos to you for making a blog like this.

thurstjo said...

A company called HiFi DNA Tech, LLC ( that is involved in the manufacture of portable HPV testing devices based on DNA sequencing analysis sued the Food and Drug Administration in an attempt to force it to downgrade its HPV detection technology to Class II. The petition document show's that the FDA knows that HPV is not linked to cervical cancer. You can see the FDA press release in relation to this here.

The full story is here.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Delegate Marshall's bill to delay the HPV vaccine mandate was killed in the VA Senate Health and Education Committee. Therefore the mandate will go into effect this year. Parents can legally opt-out of this but the language of the legislative mandate makes no provision for informing parents or physicians of the right to opt-out. Already one pediatrics group in Northern VA is telling parents that HPV vaccine is required by law for their sixth grade daughters as of next fall. It appears that parents may need to inform their physicians and assert their parental rights on this issue.

Ren said...

As an epidemiologist, I want to thank you for spreading all this "information". You are making my job very interesting by having all these viruses and bacteria once thought lost to make a comeback. I get all tingly when I hear of a pertussis outbreak in a family that was "well informed". I feel the adrenaline when kids show up to hospitals and spread N. meningitidis to immune compromised patients because their parents read articles that were not peer-reviewed linking vaccines and all sorts of conditions. And I make my living from closing down hospital wards and nursing homes to new admissions when one of your readers comes in with active chickenpox. YOU ARE THE YING TO MY YANG!

And here's your anti-blog:

Lisa Kern said...

Hospital spread many times different viruses. My daughter got sick after a hospital visit. Instead of the common cold, it became much worse. I liter not in hospitals as much anymore.