New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, has said he plans to sign legislation requiring 6th grade girls to receive a vaccine that would protect them against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the sexually transmitted disease that causes a majority of cases of cervical cancer.
State lawmakers approved the bill last week, making the legislature the second in the country to enact a measure requiring the vaccination for middle-school-age girls. Virginia’s legislature earlier this month passed a similar bill, which Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, has indicated that he will sign. (“States Are Divided on Vaccinations for HPV,” March 14, 2007.)
The New Mexico plan, which the legislature estimates will cost $3.9 million each year to provide uninsured girls with the $350, three-shot regimen, allows parents to opt out on behalf of their children after they have received materials about the availability of the vaccine and the link between HPV and cervical cancer.
Elsewhere, members of the Texas House of Representatives overwhelming approved a measure last week to overturn Republican Gov. Rick Perry’s Feb. 2 executive order requiring the vaccination. The bill is now headed to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2007 edition of Education Week