It’s natural and right for Texans to want an efficient and effective state government. After all, resources are limited and no one loves to pay more taxes. Getting more bang for our public buck is simply good policy.
That’s the reasoning behind legislation that would require better reporting of immunization rates for human papilloma virus, or HPV, the virus that causes most of the cervical cancer in the United States. It’s also a cause of several other kinds of cancer. HB 107, authored by Rep. Sarah Davis, would help Texas health officials use their budgets more effectively to fight cancer by providing them with information to target their immunization efforts.
Right now, Texas reports only statewide HPV vaccination rates. HB 107 would require the state to modify its data-gathering methods so that it has county-by-county figures for how many people are getting vaccinated.
Here are the chief things to know about HB 107:
- The state has vaccination “deserts,” regions where HPV vaccination rates are much lower than elsewhere, often because transportation problems or poverty make it difficult for people get vaccinated. By creating public-information campaigns and providing better access to vaccination in those deserts, Texas can maximize its effectiveness at reducing rates of HPV and related cancers even with a limited budget.
- The American Cancer Society estimates that 12,830 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 2017, and that 4,210 women will die of the disease.
- A recent study found that deaths from cervical cancer appear to be much higher than previously believed. And African American women are much more likely to die of the disease than white women. HB 107 would make it possible for Texas to target health services, from vaccination to regular Pap smears, to the communities that need them most.
- And HPV isn’t just a “women’s disease.” It is associated with higher risks of cancer of the mouth, throat and penis.
- Through more targeted campaigns, the state could also take steps more quickly and nimbly in delivering health services. That’s important because the HPV vaccine is more effective when people receive it during the preteen and teen years than among people older than 20.
- Texans still make the decision about whether or not to get the vaccine. The bill doesn’t limit people’s choices about whether to get this or any other vaccine.
- The state would be using data that’s already gathered. It’s a waste of public resources to pull together information if it never gets used.
Cancer is a bipartisan issue, and making the most of limited public resources is a smart move for everyone. HB 107 would ensure that public officials and health care providers are better informed about how and where to target their efforts so that all can benefit.
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