Gardasil bill fails to gain momentum

Published March 29, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Sen. Jim King, a leading proponent of the controversial proposal to make the world's first cervical cancer vaccine mandatory for middle school girls, conceded Wednesday that the measure likely won't pass this year.

Resistance, particularly from the Republican-led House, is too strong.

"I'm really upset about it," said King, R-Jacksonville. "By putting it off, we have automatically decreed that some women's lives are expendable."

Here in the state capital, nothing is officially dead until the session ends at midnight on the 60th day.

But the companion bills pushed by King and two Tampa Bay lawmakers - Sen. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey and Rep. Ed Homan of Tampa - are so close to death's door, King is already pondering how to get it passed in 2008.

The House and Senate bills SB 660/HB 561 would make the Gardasil vaccine a required immunization for girls attending private and public schools, and schools would have to educate families about the vaccine.

Dr. Homan's proposal would require the vaccine starting in fall 2011. Like the Senate version, it allows families to opt out of the Gardasil vaccine, which protects against four types of the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.

Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at (850) 224-7263 or svansickler@sptimes.com.