Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) on Friday issued an executive order that made Texas the first state to require girls entering the sixth grade to receive the HPV vaccine, beginning in September 2008. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Gardasil, a vaccine that prevents several strands of the sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus (HPV), in June 2006. Gardasil is approved for women ages nine-26 to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18.
Though Governor Perry is known as a social conservative, his press secretary, Robert Black, told The Dallas Morning News, "He came to the conclusion it was the right thing to do. You don't have opportunities like this where you can certainly prevent a cancer. It�s never happened before, so it would be irresponsible to walk away from it."
Texas has the second highest number of women with cervical cancer in the country, the New York Times reports. Governor Perry pointed out in his executive order that there were 1,169 new cases and 391 deaths from cervical cancer in Texas in 2006.