Tuesday, February 06, 2007

An Open Letter

Dear Massachusetts,

I know how much you hate to hear this, but I’m very disappointed in you. Texas has mandated the HPV vaccine as a part of girl’s routine vaccinations, and now Virginia has passed legislation to that end as well. Michigan tried it, and even South Dakota passed legislation to provide the vaccine to girls at no cost.

Meanwhile, tried-and-true blue state that you are, you have yet to even introduce legislation on the vaccine! How could you let Texas beat you to the punch? I realize that a big part of the reason Gov. Perry acted so quickly with his executive order was to prevent the political wrangling that would have gone on had the measure gone to the legislature, and that you don’t anticipate having that kind of problem, but you know what I think is really going on here? You’ve gotten complacent. What with your newly instated Democratic governor and your traditionally liberal politics, you don’t feel like you have to rush into this whole HPV thing. You know it’ll happen eventually, so you’re taking your sweet time about it.

The thing is, MA, no matter how badly you’ve treated some of my friends in recent years (y’know, the MCAS debacle, the abstinence-only sex education, the absolute dearth of funding for the university), I still love you. I still want you to be the best little state you can be. You have so much potential! You could be a leader in liberal politics. Remember how exciting it was to legalize same-sex marriage? In those first weeks you felt like an innovator and a guide for the rest of the nation. We’re all still waiting for them to remember that separate is not equal, but when they come around you will have been there in the beginning (and, unlike New Mexico, you will have seen it through). You could have been right there on the HPV vaccine, too, but you dropped the ball.

But just because you got a little bit behind doesn’t mean you can’t catch up. It’s very simple, really, just a few easy legislative steps:
• Mandate that the vaccine be given to school age girls along with other required vaccinations.
• Require the Department of Health to create an awareness campaign and create literature about HPV to send to parents. Encourage young women who are too old to be affected by the mandate to receive the vaccine anyway.
• Fund the vaccine! This is a crucial point. We pay plenty of taxes. Make them useful please. Consider mandating insurance and state health plan coverage.

See! Piece of cake. And MA, this is the health of your young people we’re talking about here -- so let’s get on it, okay?


Write to Deval Patrick, Governor
Write to your MA State Senator
Write to your MA State Representative
Lists of HPV Vaccine Measures by state

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