DC Schools to Require HPV Vaccine?

Councilmembers Mary Cheh and David Catania yesterday introduced a bill before the City Council to require the HPV Vaccine for all school-going female teens. HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is thought to be responsible for a large proportion of cervical cancer cases. The real problem here is that the vaccine itself costs $360. While Federal support is available for those on Medicaid, where does that put the rest of the students who aren’t on Medicaid? $360 just to go back to school? It’s not like Measles or Rubella or the Mumps which are commonly contagious, HPV is only spread through genital to genital contact, so I’m thinking this ought to be a parental choice, not a state mandate.

The intent, for certain, is well-intentioned, but is trying out a new vaccine on DC schoolgirls, at their expense in many cases, really the best way to promote good health practices? Perhaps the city would do well to instead offer further assistance and information regarding the vaccine instead of trying to mandate something that’s been around only a short time and whose side effects in the long term aren’t yet known.

4 Comments so far

  1. Tiff (unregistered) on January 10th, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

    I think it’s a stupid idea, not because I’m against the vaccine (which I think is fantastic and a good idea for every teenage girl) but because the whole point of making innoculations a condition for school attendance is to prevent the spread of diseases which are highly communicable from the kid across the table at lunchtime, and therefore most likely to be transmitted *at school.*

    Do the DC public schools really have such a widespread problem with sexual contact between students during the class changes? I mean, maybe they do, but if so, THAT’s the problem the council ought to be addressing.

    Otherwise, they’re just using the coercive power of the state to legislate what is rightly the private decision of girls, their parents/guardians, and their doctors and none of the Council’s business. That the vaccine is a good idea isn’t a good enough reason to interfere in the rights of the girls or their parents.

  2. Krempasky (unregistered) on January 10th, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    Preach it, Tiff!

  3. Don (unregistered) on January 10th, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    I think it’s hard to decide what is and isn’t an appropriate coercive power of the state. Personally I think any chucklehead who wants to ride his motorcycle without a helmet should be free to do so… except that the lion’s share of said knuckleheads who do that end up indigent in the health care system and cost the rest of us upstanding folk money.

    Cervical cancer is similarly an expensive disease that may cost us money both in indigent care costs and lost productivity in the larger sense. I suspect that there’s a case to be made economically for reducing disease in the general population. I totally agree with you, though, that mandating it for school attendance seems completely without grounds. How is that necessary to prevent illness in the school?

  4. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on January 10th, 2007 @ 6:45 pm

    You people obviously don’t have any appreciation for band-aid remedies to problems. Come on – solving a problem or promoting decent health and sexual practices are expensive and time-consuming. If we can give these girls shots, and thus have almost-free medical testing subjects, isn’t that the better deal?

    Right on – this is a terrible idea. Great intention as far as the vaccine goes but I see other motives here. Am I right in guessing that this mandate is not for all girls of that age but only for those in public schools? Are private school students affected by this?

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