The parental role

Health/Politics | US Senate candidate Radtke continues to press on mandatory HPV vaccinations
by Eric Burk
Posted 9/22/11, 05:58 pm

Jamie Radtke, who is seeking Virginia's GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, is continuing to press the issue of mandatory vaccinations for the human papilloma virus (HPV). The vaccine re-emerged as a political issue among conservatives during a presidential candidate debate two weeks ago after Rep. Michele Bachmann criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for signing a 2007 executive order to make the vaccination mandatory in his state. The sexually-transmitted virus is a leading cause of cervical cancer.

In June 2006, the National Advisory committee on Immunization Practices issued a recommendation for routine vaccination of 11 to 12-year-old girls.

Since then, at least 41 states have issued legislation regarding the issue, including mandatory school vaccination in some states. Although the vaccine is widely regarded as safe, the mandatory vaccination has some national candidates, including Radtke, up in arms.

The Annandale Patch reported that Radkte said last week, "I absolutely do not think the state government should be doing my parenting for me. And an HPV vaccination, it deals with the private lives of your children and their sexual activity and all these other things. And that's a parental role."

She also told Patch that she was "frustrated and disappointed" with Republicans who supported the measure. "That's just an area where it's very convenient for pharmaceutical companies to get something mandatory - that sure makes the demand of their drug much higher than it would be."

Virginia does have mandatory HPV vaccinations, but in 2007, then-Gov. Tim Kaine amended the legislation to allow parents to opt their girls out, although they must first "review" state-approved "educational materials."

The Virginia Department of Health's website states, "Effective October 1, 2008, a complete series of 3 doses of HPV vaccine is required for females. The first dose shall be administered before the child enters the 6th grade. After reviewing educational materials approved by the Board of Health, the parent or guardian, at the parent's or guardian's sole discretion, may elect for the child not to receive the HPV vaccine."

The American Social Health Association reports that there are roughly 20 million cases of HPV in the US, with 6 million new cases each year. Certain types of HPV are known to cause cervical cancer, but the FDA has determined that the vaccine is reasonably safe and effective at preventing HPV.