AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Yesterday, Texas State Senator Glenn Hegar (R, Katy) sent a letter to the acting Executive Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Albert Hawkins, asking him to clarify his intentions regarding Governor Perry's executive order mandating that 11 and 12 year old girls be given multiple doses of the Gardasil HPV vaccine before they can attend Texas public schools.
Hegar's letter was prompted by the informal Attorney General's opinion, in which Attorney General Greg Abbott told Senator Jane Nelson and Representative Jim Keffer that Governor Perry's Executive Order (RP-65) had no weight of law. More specifically, Abbott stated that the Health and Human Services Commissioner is not required to follow the executive order because a governor's executive order cannot authorize an agency to do something it does not already have the authority to do.
In Senator Hegar's letter, which is also signed by Senator Kevin Eltife, Hegar refers to a discussion with Hawkins during the February 28, 2007 Senate Nominations Committee hearing, in which Hawkins confirmation was left pending. In the hearing Hegar asked Hawkins whether or not he believed HPV was a true communicable disease. Hawkins answered that HPV was not a communicable disease and, in fact, was a sexually transmitted disease that posed no threat to anyone without sexual contact. During his questioning of Hawkins, Senator Hegar also noted that the Gardasil vaccine provides at best only 70% prevention against cervical cancer and only 90% prevention against genital warts. When Hegar pointed out that the Gardasil vaccine does not prevent cervical cancer, Hawkins agreed with Senator Hegar that the Gardasil vaccine is not a cure for cervical cancer.
Senator Hegar believes that due to the Attorney General's opinion, that acting Commissioner Hawkins and the Health and Human Services Commission have no further obligation to take any further action in regards to the implementation of Executive Order RP65. Therefore, Hegar asked Hawkins to specifically answer whether or not he will stop any further consideration by HHSC of mandatory HPV immunizations unless given the mandate to do so by the 80th Texas Legislature or future Texas Legislatures.
Senator Hegar requested that Hawkins provide a prompt YES or NO answer to his question, and further stated that his vote to confirm Hawkins nomination as Executive Commissioner of HHSC depends upon his answer.