The Texas House on Wednesday voted 135-2 to pass (HB 1098) a Senate-approved bill that would prevent mandatory vaccination for middle school girls in the state until 2011, the New York Times reports.
Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Feb. 2 issued an executive order that mandates that all girls entering the sixth grade beginning in September 2008 receive an HPV vaccine. Perry has said the executive order will allow parents who do not want their daughters to receive an HPV vaccine "for reasons of conscience, including religious beliefs," to opt out of the requirement.
Under the executive order, girls and women ages nine to 21 who are eligible for public assistance will be able to receive Merck's HPV vaccine Gardasil at no cost beginning immediately.
The Senate on Monday voted 30-1 to pass the measure (New York Times, 4/26). Perry has 10 days, excluding Sundays, to decide whether he will sign it into law, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it, the Houston Chronicle reports.
A Perry spokesperson declined to say if the governor would veto the measure, the Austin American-Statesman reports. If Perry vetoes the bill, the Legislature could override it with a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber before the session ends May 28.
According to the American-Statesman, an override "seems likely" because both the House and Senate voted by large margins to pass the bill. Perry spokesperson Krista Moody said, "The governor looks forward to a day when cervical cancer is eradicated and Texas women no longer have to cope with the devastating effects of this disease," adding that the Legislature's vote will "delay that day for another four years".
According to the Times, the next Legislature, which convenes in 2009, might revisit the vaccine program.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation