Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Michigan Senator Proposes HPV Vaccine for School Enrollment

On CNN today (via the AP), the following article appeared: Michigan legislation would require girls to get HPV vaccine. Based on the title and the piece, you might assume that the bill introduced by State Senator Beverly Hammerstrom (R) would require Michigan girls entering 6th grade to receive the vaccine in order to enroll in school. A Family Research Council representative was quoted in response as though it does, saying "We don't feel using school attendance as a form of coercion to get parents to vaccinate their child is appropriate, simply because this disease is not transmitted through casual contact the way other diseases are that are subject to school mandates," (said Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.).

However, the actual proposed legislation (see Senate Introduced Bill, a PDF) requires just one of the following:
"Beginning with the 2008 school year, the parent of legal guardian of a female child enrolling in grade 6 for the first time in a public or nonpublic school shall submit to school officials 1 of the following:
(a) A statement signed by a physician that the child has received the human papillomavirus vaccine.
(b) A statement signed by the child's parent or guardian to the effect that the parent or legal guardian has received the information on the connection between the human papillomavirus and cervical cancer, as required under section 9250B of the Public Health Code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.9205B, and that the parent or legal guardian has elected for the child to not receive the human papillomavirus vaccine."
After reading the bill, it is clear that parents have a choice to opt out, as long as they are making an informed decision. However, the point that the virus is not transmitted through casual contact so should not be required for school attendance is an interesting one. Michigan requires fairly standard infectious disease immunizations for grade school children, such as the MMR, Hepatitis B, and chicken pox (varicella). However, they also seem to require tetanus vaccination, which is not a contagious disease. Should immunizations be required for agents which are not readily passed among students? Exemptions are already available for religious or medical reasons, and the HPV legislation clearly allows parents to opt out without either of these reasons. What do you think?

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MeSH Tags: Papillomavirus, Human; Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/prevention and control; Vaccines


Blogger Kat Coble said...

Just off the top of my head...

No, Tetanus isn't spread from child to child. But it is a possible side effect of being injured on playground equipment, in gym class, etc.

I think (fervently hope) the risk of an elementary-school aged child's exposure to tetanus is far greater than their risk of exposure to HPV.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I wondered if that was perhaps the rationale - thanks for pointing it out. The targeting of rising 6th-graders for HPV vaccination seems to be because they'll get the most out of the vaccine if they get it before they're sexually active, not because they're at a high risk of infection at school itself.

12:25 PM  

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