NY lawmakers mull HPV vax mandate

Merck and GlaxoSmithKline could get a boost from New York lawmakers. Two bills working their way through the New York State legislature would mandate that schoolchildren receive a human papillomavirus vaccine, even without a parent's consent.

Merck makes the HPV vaccine Gardasil, which recently was approved for marketing to boys in addition to girls. And GlaxoSmithKline finally got the FDA nod for its version of an HPV shot, Cervarix. The bills don't specify the vaccine New York's children should receive. It also doesn't specify "girls," as BNet Pharma points out. It's included in a long list of vaccines required for all children, presumably boys included.

There's sure to be a huge debate over this idea if the bills get very far in the legislature. Plenty of parents won't like the idea of their children being vaccinated without their consent or even knowledge, as one bill specifies. But advocates will say that requiring parental consent also requires teens to tell their parents they want an HPV vaccine, which could just translate into teens forgoing the shot.

But it seems to us as if you may not need a "no parental consent" provision if you have a state mandate for a particular vaccination. A mandated HPV shot would be given as a matter of course for a child to remain in school, just like tetanus and polio and other childhood vaccines. Parents would have to definitively opt out, rather than choosing to opt in--and that may be enough to get the bulk of kids vaccinated. We'll have to see how this one turns out.

- read the BNet story