by Fran Eaton
Along a party line vote, the Senate Public Health Committee passed Senator Debbie Halvorson's bill Wednesday to mandate the HPV vaccine for all 11 year old girls. The committee's six Democrats supported it and the four Republicans opposed.
Senator Halvorson made it very clear she wants the HPV vaccine to be mandatory and admitted to Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) that SB 10 does not require parents to be notified they have an option to opt out of the vaccine for their daughters.
Citing 700 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in Illinois in 2006, a Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville doctor who served on the Governor's Task Force on Cervical Cancer said two-thirds of those victims will die from the cancer.
"Our purpose is to eradicate cervical cancer in two generations," Halvorson told the committee.
Cancer statistics show that the vast majority of cervical cancer deaths involve women over age 49. There are no strong cervical cancer genetic links but there are family characteristics such as smoking and having sex with multiple partners which tend towards the cancer, the SIUE doctor testified.
Several senators voiced their concern about Halvorson's plan to require the vaccine for school attendance. Senator Christine Radogno (R-LaGrange) is a mother of three daughters, and said she "resented" as a parent that she would be forced to have her daughters get the vaccine as young as 11 years. Chicago Democrat senators Raoul and Delgado encouraged Halvorson to add that parents would be notified they could opt out of the vaccine.
Last week, senate staffers reported a growing number of phone calls in opposition to the HPV vaccine mandate.
National attention to the millions HPV vaccine manufacturer Merck has spent on lobbying efforts recently caused a public backlash. Last week, Merck pulled back its lobbyists in state legislatures.
There was no mention in yesterday's Senate hearings of the over 400 adverse reactions reported in the past few months and there were no concerns about conflict of interest raised because of the campaign funds Senator Halvorson has received from the vaccine manufacturer.
Bill may be called on Senate floor as soon as Thursday.