Friday, March 02, 2007

Virginia to Make HPV Vaccination Mandatory

The Washington Post is reporting that Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine will sign legislation requiring the state's 6th-grade girls to receive the HPV vaccine. The bill passed the VA House 80-17, and unanimously passed in the VA Senate on the 3rd reading. The legislation updates existing vaccination requirements, adding to the list of required vaccinations the language, "12. Three doses of properly spaced human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for females. The first dose shall be administered before the child enters the sixth grade."

Parents may opt out under the provision, "3. After having reviewed materials describing the link between the human papillomavirus and cervical cancer approved for such use by the Board, a parent or guardian may elect, on an appropriate form prescribed by the Board, for his child not to receive the human papillomavirus vaccine," which requires them to be informed about the issue but allows them to refuse for any reason.

According to the Washington Times, "In Virginia, Merck [maker of the only currently available HPV vaccine] spent more than $70,000 in lobbying fees since 2005. The company also has donated to numerous political campaigns. Delegate Phillip A. Hamilton, Newport News Republican, who sponsored the HPV bill, has received $10,000 in Merck contributions since 1997, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Mr. Hamilton said Merck played no role in his decision to sponsor the bill. He said nobody from the company approached him about the idea of proposing the vaccine." Merck's 2005 corporate political contributions document indicates that Hamilton received $1,500 from the company in 2005; VPAP also reports another $1,500 to Hamilton in 2006. This table on the VPAP website details Merck's contributions to Hamilton since 1997. No contributions to Kaine are listed, and a search of multiple data sources did not turn up any direct contributions from Merck to the Governor.

Full-text of the legislation as passed
See previous post regarding concerns about mandatory HPV vaccination legislation in Texas.

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