Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HPV Legislation on the Way

From the Caucus presser:

    State Rep. Edna Brown, D-Toledo, announced today that she will be reintroducing legislation to require Ohio girls preparing to enter the sixth grade to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), which is believed to be responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.

    Last December, Brown introduced House Bill 703, a similar proposal, but time ran out on the 126th General Assembly before her bill could be considered. Brown’s bill will call for all Ohio schoolgirls age 11 to 12 to be vaccinated against HPV, unless parents opt out for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.
(I got the same email as Cindy. Catch up with Rep. Brown here. And you can check out my previous posts on the issue here and here.)

In point of fact, last session's H.B. 703 didn’t make it out of committee. But that was SOP last session where the Republicans’ refused to act on any Dem proposal so they could campaign against Dems as do-nothings. If they saw a proposal they actually liked, they would table it until they could find a Repub to sponsor a copycat version. With Strickland in office and a closer margin in the House, things should be at least a little easier for bills with bipartisan support.

Looking at last sessions’ version
, it amended R.C. § 3313.671 to add the HPV vaccine to a list of newly required immunizations:
    (3) Beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, except as provided in division (B) of this section, no female pupil who begins sixth grade at a school subject to the state board of education's minimum standards shall be permitted to remain in school for more than fourteen days unless the pupil presents written evidence satisfactory to the person in charge of admission that the pupil has been immunized by a department of health-approved method of immunization or is in the process of being immunized against the human papillomavirus.
It strikes me that if the GA wanted to, they could tackle the issue of immunizing boys now. If they change the language from “no female pupil” to “no pupil for whom the human papilloma virus immunization has been approved,” we are good to go once the approval comes through. Otherwise, I fear that if the immunization requirement is already in place once approval for boys comes through, the GA has an excuse to drag it’s feet .

Look, if women carried asymptomatically a virus found to cause testicular cancer, this wouldn’t even be an issue – the default rule would be to immunize both boys and girls. It troubles me that both lawmakers and public health advocates are paying so little attention to immunizing carriers.