“Opting-Out” of HPV Vaccine WILL NOT WORK for Many in Texas
Governor Perry is misleading legislators and families in Texas by claiming that they will be able to “opt-out” of having their 6th grade daughter vaccinated with the vaccine for the sexually transmitted virus HPV. For many families currently, the exemption isn’t worth the piece of paper it is printed on. Besides the simple fact that parents should not have to get permission from the state to make informed consent medical decisions for their own children, here are four reasons why “opting-out” of sate mandated vaccines doesn’t work for many families in Texas:
- “Opt-out” or Conscientious Exemption to Vaccination Process is a Bureaucratic Nightmare
To get the exemption form, parents must first submit a written form to State Health Department in Austin which forces the disclosure of the child’s full name, birthdate, and mailing address. The Health Department takes those written requests and creates yet another form on which they print the child’s same personal information that the parent had to send to health department, and the Health Department sometimes takes weeks to mail out these forms inevitably disrupting the child’s school attendance. The Health Department only sends the forms by U.S. mail, and once the parent receives the forms, they must be notarized within 90 days of submitting them and then repeatedly resubmitted every 2 years even though there is no expiration set in statute.  Because the Health Department further eroded parental rights by publishing more rules getting rid of provisional enrolment for exemptions, (families used to have 30 days at the beginning of school to get their paperwork in), now schools participate in aggressive misleading education campaigns touting “no shots – no school” while not informing families of the exemption or the instructions how to obtain it.
- Private Schools Deny Admission
The Texas attorney general issued an opinion in April of 2006, ga0420, that states that private schools do not have to accept the conscience exemption to vaccination in Texas Law, and many private schools do not. For example, the Dallas Diocese for Catholic Schools policy number 5024 states, “Schools will comply with immunization requirements established by the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department. Conscientious objections/waivers are not accepted in schools of the Diocese.”  Every new vaccine mandate causes more children with valid legal exemptions to be denied their private school education.
- Doctors Refuse Medical Care
Even though you may be able to get a piece of paper from the state health department affirming your right to refuse state mandated vaccines for your child, just try and find a doctor who will honor it! According to a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 39% of pediatricians surveyed said they would throw kids out of practices who are not vaccinated.  PROVE has documented this rampant problem of doctors dismissing families utilizing a vaccine exemption in Texas to the legislature in previous sessions. Please review our report entitled “The Erosion of Public Trust & Informed Consent through Immunization Harassment, Discrimination and Coercion” prepared for the House Public Health Committee in 2005. 
- Insurance Rates Rise and Accessibility Affected
Responsible parents who have secured health care coverage for their children will be forced to pay higher insurance rates whether they want the HPV vaccine or not. Even if you “opt-out” of the HPV vaccine mandate for Gardasil by Merck by securing a conscientious exemption waiver, there is no way for Texas parents to “opt-out” of the corresponding rise in their insurance premiums. § 1367.053. (a) (2) of the Insurance Code REQUIRES that any vaccine required be law must be covered by insurance.  This first-dollar coverage requirement results in corresponding direct hiking of insurance premiums to meet costs, and for a vaccine as expensive as this one, an HPV vaccine mandate risks putting premiums for basic health care coverage out of reach financially for even more Texas families. Additionally, we have received complaints from families where insurance companies are harassing parents with letters and discriminating on coverage based on whether or not the child has had all their state mandated vaccines.
 Policy Handbook for Schools, July 6, 2006, Policy 5024.
 WebMD, “Refuse Vaccine, Get ‘Fired’ by Pediatrician?” by Daniel Denoon, October 3, 2005.
PROVE * P.O. Box 91566 * Austin, TX 78709-1566 * Tel: (512) 288-3999