February 23, 2007
Right now, there is a bill on Governor Tim Kaine's desk that could prevent women from getting a cancer that kills ten of them in United States every day. It would do this by requiring all girls entering the sixth grade to get a vaccine for HPV, an STD that can cause cervical cancer.
But this bill is not without ethical and medical controversy.
"This vaccine has only been on the market since June 2006," explains holistic pediatrician Eric Rydland. "So it's only been out for eight months and already we have had some serious complications with the vaccine."
Some of those noted complications include dizziness, fainting, numbness, and a possible risk of infertility.
But public health nurse Patty Kempton says complications like this are extremely rare and maybe even unrelated.
She says, if there was cause for concern, the vaccine would not have gotten the government's seal of approval in the first place.
"The CDC wouldn't agree to, and the FDA wouldn't approve of, a vaccine that hadn't been thoroughly tested."
Another concern is, that by making this vaccine mandatory, it could take away parents rights, and promote promiscuous behavior.
"This is the first time we are vaccinating children against something they can't get in school," explained Rydland. "It's not an epidemic situation. It's a social situation."
Currently there is a provision in the bill that gives the parents a chance to opt their kid out of getting the HPV vaccine for religious reasons. But if they opt their kid out of that vaccine, then they opt their kids out of getting all required vaccines.
"It's an all or nothing exemption," said Kempton. "So that they either opt to have no childhood required immunizations or they must have all mandated childhood immunizations. They cannot pick and choose."
This exemption provision is what Kaine is looking at. He has until the end of March to decide whether or not to change it, sign it, or veto it.
If signed, the vaccine will be mandatory starting in 2009, and paid for by the state.
If you have questions about the vaccine, you can contact the Charlottesville Free Clinic at (434) 972-6205.