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Joint Statement from the Chairman and Vice-Chairman on Perry's Vaccine Proposal PDF Print E-mail


Fellow Republicans,

On Friday, a controversial executive order was issued by the Governor’s Office mandating all girls be vaccinated for the sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) prior to entering the sixth grade, starting in September of 2008. As RPT Chairman and Vice-Chairman, we strongly urge Governor Perry to reconsider and rescind this incursion on parents’ rights and usurpation of the Texas Legislature’s authority.  Private and delicate health decisions such as these are best left to parents to determine the best interests of their minor children.  Also, we call on Governor Perry to allow our elected legislative leaders in the house to debate this issue on behalf of their constituents.   This debate will allow for a full fiscal accounting and cogent public health policy to be developed instead of a mandated directive which supercedes the rights of parents.

Parents should always be the final authority in determining what is best for their minor children on all matters, especially concerning private and delicate health decisions. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that the custody, care, and nurture of the child reside first in the parents. Further, as the Republican Party of Texas Platform states: “we believe all adult citizens should have the legally protected right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty or discrimination for refusing a vaccine.”

A primary concern of parents is that numerous questions remain about the safety, efficacy, and urgency of this vaccine, which is administered through a series of shots. Questions remain about the safety of this vaccine series especially in light of the fact that it has only been on the market a short time (FDA approved in June 2006). Also questionable is how long the series of vaccines is effective. Further, no public health emergency exists that requires forcing this vaccine on children who may never be exposed to HPV. Proponents claim that it will help prevent cervical cancer. However, the Centers for Disease Control indicates that cervical cancer and related deaths continue to decrease significantly overall. The occurrence of cervical cancer is very rare in those who get regular PAP tests. The vaccination does not immunize recipients against all strains of the virus, so girls would still be required to get regular PAP tests to try to prevent cervical cancer. With so many questions remaining in this complex health issue, forcing parents to give their young daughters this series of shots is unreasonable.

In addition, several bills regarding this vaccine are pending in the Texas Legislature. At a minimum, our elected state legislators should have the opportunity to debate this issue and determine whether there is a public health emergency and, if so, whether this vaccination should be forced upon our children. Even those who disagree on the merits of the HPV vaccine should agree that an executive mandate requiring girls to be vaccinated for a virus that poses no immediate threat to public health is unnecessary.

Republicans understand that a balance must be struck between private interests and public policy. Parents, professionals, and the public must be allowed to speak up for their children and those whose health could be at risk from receiving an unproven vaccine. We must have an opportunity to vigorously debate this issue. The American Academy of Pediatrics has been quoted as saying that requiring this HPV vaccine is “premature”. We agree and urge Governor Perry to rescind this controversial order.

Tina J. Benkiser

Tina Benkiser
Republican Party of Texas 

Robin Armstrong, M.D.
Vice Chairman
Republican Party of Texas

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