The state of Indiana sent parents of children and teens a letter urging the use of a controversial vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease, and the action has upset more than a few parents.
At least 305,000 families may have received letters pressuring them to get their children inoculated with the Human Papillomavirus or HPV vaccine.
“Vaccination is the best way to prevent HPV infection and associated cancers that present later in life,” a copy of the letter obtained by The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette stated. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians, all children, 11 and older, should get vaccinated. By vaccinating at this age, preteens will be protected before any exposure to the virus occurs.”
The letter states matter-of-factly, “Please allow this letter to serve as a reminder to contact your healthcare provider and make an appointment to start the series (of vaccines).”
Not surprisingly, the letter caused an uproar and prompted one group, the American Family Association (AFA), to complain to Governor Mike Pence, according to The Journal Gazette.
“We’re looking into it,” Pence said.
The letter was apparently printed and mailed at taxpayer expense by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) on September 21.
“We certainly want to respect the prerogatives of parents,” Pence said. “The role of the state Department of Health in making information available to families is longstanding. We’ll look into it and make sure it’s clarified.”
State Promotes Vaccination
The State of Indiana maintains a registry of all children who have no record of vaccination, The Indianapolis Star reported. Twice a year, the Department of Health mails a letter recommending vaccination to all parents of unvaccinated kids.
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The vaccination is controversial because it is designed to stop the Human Papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease which most doctors believe causes cervical cancer. Critics of the vaccine fear it could promote sexual activity among children and young teens.
Even some supporters of vaccination, such as Micah Clark, the executive director of Indiana’s chapter of the AFA, are upset by the letter. Clark told The Star he became aware of the vaccination effort when he received a copy of the letter in the mail.
“We chose not to vaccinate our daughter for a sexually transmitted disease,” Clark said. “She has been vaccinated for easily communicable diseases like polio and mumps. This, however, is something with completely different moral connotations and risk/benefit considerations.”
Clark added, “I am not anti-pharmaceutical. I am not anti-vaccine. I certainly don’t want anyone to get a virus that might lead to cancer. I am for parental rights and limited government. A nanny state is not my idea of a self-governing, free society. I think our Founders would agree with me.”
The Home School Legal Defense Association, or HSLDA, also expressed concern about the letter.
“It appears ISDH is now using pressure tactics to increase the use of this vaccine,” HSLDA attorney TJ Schmidt wrote. “HSLDA believes that parents should have the freedom to determine what immunizations are best for their children.”
What do you believe? Should states encourage or even pressure parents to get their children vaccinated? Share your thoughts in the section below: