Future Uncertain For HPV Vaccine Bill

A bill that would require school-age girls in Colorado to get a cervical cancer vaccine failed in the Senate Appropriations Committee today on a 4-4 vote. But its sponsor could bring it back when two lawmakers who were absent today are present, according to the Denver Post:

A controversial proposal to require teen-age girls in Colorado to get a new cervical cancer vaccine stalled in a Senate committee this morning.

The measure failed on a 4-4 vote in Senate appropriations, with Democrat Stephanie Takis of Aurora joining Republican opponents.

Bill sponsor Suzanne Williams said she hopes to bring the proposal back next week, when two other senators who were absent can vote.

“The bill is not dead,” she said.

However, the vote could likely remain tied as one of the excused members, Sen. Ted Harvey, is a Republican and the other, Maryanne Keller of Wheatridge, is a Democrat.

The measure, which would add the new vaccine against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus to the list of shots required to attend public school, had been on hold in the committee while leaders tried to figure out how much it would cost.

Just last week, leaders feared its price tag could be as high as $800,000 for children not covered by Medicaid or private health insurance. After further analysis, Williams told the committee it would only cost about $34,000 next year.

But the new fiscal note said that price could go as high as $300,000 the next year.

Public health officials support the bill as a valuable tool in the fight against the human papilloma virus that medical officials estimate causes 70 percent of all cervical-cancer cases.

And while the shot would be on this list of those required for middle school girls, like all vaccines in Colorado, parents could opt their children out.

Conservatives, however, argue the bill moves vaccination policy from one that protects children from communicable diseases into areas of adult choices.

Opponents also argued it would encourage sexual promiscuity in teenagers, and have accused the vaccine’s manufacturer, Merck, of pushing the legislation to pad its coffers.

Colorado Confidential’s past coverage on the bill:

HPV Vaccine Bill Approved by Senate Committee

Mandating the HPV Vaccine

Merck Backs Off Push For HPV Vaccine Laws