Texas HPV Mandate

by Tashun Chism

Like most mothers, Rhonda Morgan says she would do anything to keep her children safe. So when Texas Governor Rick Perry ordered mandatory HPV vaccinations for pre-teen school girls, Morgan thought it was a good idea.

"I think anything to help kids out, to keep them from getting sick or something like that later on, I'd be willing to do it for them," Morgan said.

"It's important to be vaccinated against HPV prior to being exposed to the HPV virus. That's why it's imperative to be vaccinated at a younger age so that you do get that vaccine and you get that protection, " said Lufkin Planned Parenthood Health Center Director Michelle Green.

Mandatory vaccinations won't begin until September 2008. But some are already criticizing the new requirement, saying it condones premarital sex and interferes with the way Texans raise their children.

"Maybe later on in life they might be sexually active. It's not saying they're going to do it in 6th grade. But it will turn out to where eventually they will be sexually active and maybe their husband or someone else might have slept with someone else who had it and it could cause them to have cancer," said East Texas resident Sandy Hammock

"This vaccination is not a green light for sexual activity. It's a red light for cancer prevention, so I encourage all parents to realize what it is. It's our opportunity to reduce the number of cervical cancer diagnostics. So I absolutely encourage all parents to get their daughters vaccinated," Green said.

There is an opt-out option for parents who don't want their daughters vaccinated. But East Texas health officials say before exercising that option, parents should realize just how important these vaccinations can be.

"This is great. This is great for the women of Texas. This vaccine being mandated means that certainly we can put an end to cervical cancer," added Green

Governor Perry plans to make the vaccinations free for girls ages 9 through 18 who are uninsured and who's insurance doesn't cover vaccinations.