Chat about the HPV vaccine with Delia Garcia

January 31, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

State Rep. Delia Garcia, D-Wichita, will be our online chat at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31. She will discuss the bill she is sponsoring to have sixth-grade girls vaccinated for a sexually transmitted infection, HPV, that can cause cervical cancer.


Good morning. This is Dennis Anderson, managing editor of the Lawrence Journal-World. I will be moderating today's online chat with state Rep. Delia Garcia, D-Wichita. Rep. Garcia is sponsoring a bill to have sixth-grade girls vaccinated for a sexually transmitted infection, HPV, that can cause cervical cancer. Welcome, respresentative.

Delia Garcia:

Good Morning! Thank You for inviting me to talk about this very important issue.


Representative Garcia: First, I want to congratulate you for introducing legislation that could impact women and their families across our state. Thank you for working with your peers to introduce a bill that is not about politics, but about maintaining the health and safety of our entire community. Second, this is a very bold move, and I know that you have already encountered opposition. But in our state and across the nation, we struggle, for some reason, to adopt the notion that health care should be provided to all and that preventative care (for all) is imperative if we are to create healthy communities. How does your proposal to provide vaccinations against HPV fit within a larger vision of universal health care in Kansas?

Delia Garcia:

Thank you for your comments & question, and more importantly recognizing the importance of this legislation.
This proposal to provide vaccinations against HPV is the first step at this point. Although I am a supporter of the concept of universal health care in Kansas, we need to look at all aspects. More so, I want to focus on one great idea at a time, and this passage of this legislation would definitely make the case of why we need universal health care. I hope I answered your question somewhat, baby steps.



I'm not sure I want the state to decide what is best for my child. Is this not something that I can decide for my family without someone in Topeka deciding for me? I think a bigger health issue to young girls is unwanted pregnancy would you support mandatory contraceptives such as Norplant for under age girls? Is there a difference between these two issues?

Delia Garcia:

Thank you for your question/ concern. Yes, you will be happy to know that HB 2227 includes an "Opt-Out Option" so you can decide ultimately. This legislation is about "Cancer Control" and preventing a cancer that many women are getting and dying of. I think we should stay focused on decreasing cancer and providing this opportunity for our children.


I support the vaccine it's one of the greatest achievements in medicine in quite a while, but how did you decide on 6th grade to begin it? What about the kids that just missed it?

Delia Garcia:

Great question! Actually the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommended this age group 11-12 {6th graders). The young people who just missed it will be able to receive the vaccine as well, as there is no age limit. It would just be mandatory for this age group for sure. In fact, I would encourage others to especially now that we are able to.


Ms. Garcia --

While I know you probably have young girls' best interest in mind with trying to make this vaccine mandatory before they can enter the school systems in Kansas, I think this is an extremely dangerous course of action. There have been several drug recalls in the past couple of years that the FDA and of course the drug manufacturers said were safe and obviously were not. And people paid with their lives. So why would you trust a drug that is just another money-maker for giant pharmaceutical companies and a drug that no one has any idea what the long-term effects will be? This seems like a huge gamble with our children's lives all for a vaccine that maybe will treat 4 out of the 100 strains of this virus.

Thank you.
Ann W.

Delia Garcia:

Thank You Ann for this important question. One fact I do want to point out is though the FDA just approved this last June 2006, the studies began in 1998 on the viabilit on this drug vaccination. Yes, I am more afraid to NOT do this and thinking how many more lives will be lost until we feel comfortable to do this. There is not a set time table to say when a drug vaccine is viable or not, and for now, I do believe, and am joined by many others, that we take advantage of this huge break-through of science, to save lives both men & women from cancers.


Delia - I can't emphasize enough how relieved I am that women will now have the ability to get vaccinated against the high-risk strains of HPV. I know at this point, though, that the cost of being vaccinated is quite high. Can you speak to this point in regards to mandatory vaccination, please?

Delia Garcia:

Yes, some have voiced the same concern. My first response is to inform others that there are federal monies available to help pay for some of these costs, and until later when insurance companies pick it up as they do with other vaccinations like the chicken pox. My second and gut reaction too is that the costs of medical care for someone who gets cervical cancers far exceeds the cost of these three shots. I'd rather be proactive and prevent, rather than put these persons and at times our state at a higher cost of medical coverage expenses. I know I think it is quite worth it.


Why wouldn't it be required for boys as well so they stop spreading it?

Delia Garcia:

It has been suggested that we include young boys, but the drug vaccination has not been cleared for recommendation for young boys. It has in Australia and one other country, but not in the U.S. yet. However, it has been suggested that we add on an amendment to this bill that we state that when the vaccination is later recommended for young boys, that they too will be included in this mandatory vacinnation. Thanks for the good question.


If this bill is passed and approved, will insurance cover the majority of this series of three shots that currently cost in the area of $150-195 each?

Delia Garcia:

The cost of the individual shot is approximately $120 each, but for all three the cost is at $250, as opposed to $360 total. I was just informed this by the U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services Region VII Director. The insurance companies will have the final say of what they will cover. As seen in other states, the hope is that after the beginning year, the insurance companies will cover this cost as they do other vaccincations like the chicken pox.


I want to thank Rep. Garcia for joining us this morning. I also want to thank the readers for their questions.

Delia Garcia:

Thank you to the readers and thank you to the Lawrence Journal World for offering me this opportunity to more inform Kansans on this important legislation.
I did want your readers to know that we will have a Committee Hearing next week on Wednesday on this bill. So please, voice your support or no support to your respective legislators. You may contact my office for updates at 785-296-6838 or feel free to email me at />


KS 11 years, 4 months ago

This should not be an "opt-out" bill. It should be "opt-in". I don't think the State of Kansas has any business being involved here. This is a parents responsibility.

KsGirl 11 years, 4 months ago

Too bad many parents don't accept responsibilty these days.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

I am amazed that Ms Garcia is so convinced that a mere 8 year trial on a new vaccine is sufficient time to mandate its use. I think the bill should be amended to allow parents to sue the sponsors of this bill should the vaccine harm them.

Dayna Lee 11 years, 4 months ago

Parents CAN opt out of any shots that are "required" by the state. All you need to do is sign the religious exemption slip. Then, you can decide. The only issue is that if a kid at the school gets mumps, your child has to stay home.

feeble 11 years, 4 months ago


it's not a one-shot vaccine. The schedule for immunity has not yet been established, and there no evidence that the vaccine is effective for longer than 4 years.

Further, this legislation is being pushed in all states in the US. That equates to several million individuals nation wide, every year.

Here's the part that really worries me, Merck's Phase 3 trial involved women age 16-26, there has been almost no testing of the vaccine in the age group for which the vaccine is marketed.

Ever since the Vioxx scandal, Merck's been shifting towards vaccine production because that market is a more stable, less prone to litigation (look up National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act) and thus more profitable.

I think many of the concerns around Gardasil are justified, it worries me that our elected officials are doing little to address those concerns.

Liberty 11 years, 4 months ago

"I don't think the State of Kansas has any business being involved here. This is a parents responsibility."

Agree 100 percent in my opinion. The Representative needs to check with the Federal and State Constitution to understand that they are not authorized to legislate in this area. It's a protected 10th amendment issue.

SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years, 4 months ago

The Human Papilloma Virus discussion reminds me that there is no such thing as "safe sex." HPV is transmitted even when condoms are used correctly and regularly. I still remember Tony Danza circa 1980-something smiling into the camera on public service announcements targeted at kids, "If you're going to have sex, be safe. Use a condom." What a joke.

SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years, 4 months ago

Can you imagine the emotional trauma many young girls will experience knowing they've been innoculated against a disease transmitted exclusively through sexual intercourse?

Not only are many in the targeted age group too young to understand what (and who) the government is protecing them from, but countless others will feel a sickening sense that authority figures do not trust them to make the responsible decision to save sex until marriage.

And for those of you who want to use the "What about rape?" argument, I highly doubt you are in favor of bringing back the chastity belt that would not only completely protect girls from HPV but also rape.

planetwax 11 years, 4 months ago

Cancer and dis-ease are caused by a state of unhealth and can be prevented by creating a state of health, not by countless vaccines.

I resent that I have to "opt-out" of mandatory legislation that is designed to line the pockets of Merck's pockets, and nothing else. Do some research to find that epidemics were already on the downward bell-curve once vaccines were introduced.

Our children are innoculated with 33 vaccines before they even reach adulthood. There is a tremendous amount of sickness and dis-ease in our society, and much of it is sadly because of the very thing we trusted to keep us healthy; vaccines.

Read further:

SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years, 4 months ago

Agnostick, Thank you for recognizing A) that I'm pro-life, and B) that Dr. George Tiller, the third-trimester abotionist from Wichita, commits the ultimate in human and civil rights abuse each and every day in his abortion clinic.

SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years, 4 months ago

But really, Agnostick, when are you going to switch over from the Dark Side? You're too intelligent and thoughtful to believe what you do on social and economic issues. Can I hold out any hope for you?

werekoala 11 years, 4 months ago

"The Human Papilloma Virus discussion reminds me that there is no such thing as "safe sex." "

Which is the real reason the social reactionaries have been scrambling to block this vaccine - it eliminates one of their favorite tactics to scare kids into abstinance. The fact that this sort of education does not work - kids in abstinence-based education still have sex, and do so less safely, and 95% of people growing up in our society are not virgins upon marriage.


"the emotional trauma many young girls will experience knowing they've been innoculated against a disease transmitted exclusively through sexual intercourse?"

No, I really can't. I think this is an idiotic argument, and I suspect you'd oppose an AIDS vaccine on a similar grounds?


"countless others will feel a sickening sense that authority figures do not trust them to make the responsible decision to save sex until marriage."

Ah, I love the smell of hyperbole in the morning! Well, maybe if more than 5% of them actually made this "responsible decision", you'd have a leg to stand on.

And I guess if you're coming from this mindset, why not also remove the prohibition on teenagers buying alcohol - won't they feel a "sickening sense that authority figures do not trust them" to make responsible decisions about alcohol consupmtion? For that matter why are speed limits required - are we telling people we don't trust them to judge the correct speed to travel on a given road? etc, ad infinitum.

To sum up my point - we require a lot of things in this society because we don't trust people to make the right choice. When you're talking a disease that kills tens of thousands of women each year, then yeah, I'd rather not leave things to the wisdom of teenagers, what with their saggy pants and loud music and refusal to get off my lawn.

I think the real difference between us is you'd rather legislate based on the way things "ought to be." I'd rather do it on the basis of "the way things really are."

RL 11 years, 4 months ago




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