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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Two Council Members Urge Repeal of Law
Nikita Stewart
September 17, 2007
Washington Post (09.14.07) - Monday, September 17, 2007

Two D.C. Council members have called for repealing the law that requires girls entering sixth grade to have the human papillomavirus vaccine. The legislation, passed in April and signed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), calls for immunizations to be given by fall 2009. Council Members Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) were both elected in special elections after the measure passed.

Alexander expressed fear that parents may not be properly informed about the vaccine, its effects and the chance to opt out. Both Council members said they are not convinced the city should mandate a vaccine that was approved by FDA slightly more than a year ago.

"People are saying it's a wonder drug? Based on what?" Bowser asked.

"I think certain things government should be left out of," Alexander noted.

The controversial bill passed in April in a 7-3 vote. With the two new members, there could be five votes against the law and enough momentum to overturn it. The law passed after it was amended to delay the required vaccinations by a year and a provision was added to mandate an education campaign and study.

Repealing the law may require a proposal to the health committee headed by David A. Catania (I-At Large) who co- sponsored the bill. Catania and co-sponsor Mary M. Cheh (D- Ward 3) said they object to any effort to repeal the law. Catania said the year-long delay and the education campaign addressed opponents' concerns. Cheh said Alexander and Bowser need to do more research and, "When they do, they'll see that the council's vote was the right one."