Catholic San Francisco
July 11th, 2011
By Valerie Schmalz
The California bishops’ conference is urging Californians to contact their legislators to oppose a bill that would remove the requirement of parental permission for the vaccination of children 12 and older against sexually transmitted diseases.
The bill would allow children to consent to treatment with the controversial Gardasil vaccine intended to prevent HPV or human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer. Ninety-one deaths attributed to Gardasil vaccinations have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System as of January, the California Catholic Conference said in a legislative alert.
“Minors do not have adequate judgment to make a decision about a vaccine that, as of Jan. 15, 2011, had 21,171 adverse reactions and 91 deaths reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System,” the California Catholic Conference said.
AB499 was passed by the Assembly June 2 and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee 3-1 June 14. It was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee July 6 because of new concerns that it could cost the state $300 to $500 per child’s vaccination. The concerns center on a provision that removes parental financial responsibility if a child chooses to be vaccinated without parental consent.
“Who will pay if their parents are not knowledgeable or consenting? Since their parents’ insurance would not cover it, the local school or community health clinic would presumably bill the state,” said California Catholic Conference Executive Director Ned Dolejsi.
The bill, set for committee hearing on Aug. 15, would apply to both girls and boys. While vaccination against HPVs is touted as a way to lower rates of cervical cancer, many pediatricians also recommend that boys receive the vaccine.
The vaccine is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said it is safe. The CDC recommends the vaccine for ages 11-26. California law already allows children 12 and older to consent, without parental involvement, to treatment for sexually transmitted disease. The law would expand that right to immunizations against sexually transmitted disease.
“Most parents are involved in the lives of their minor children and need to know if they are seeking medical care – regardless of whether the care is curative or preventative,” the Catholic conference wrote. “This bill appears to be an ‘end run’ following the failure in 2007 to mandate HPV vaccination for all girls entering public junior high school — a measure strongly opposed by parents rights groups and vetoed by the governor,” the conference said.
William May, chairman of the lay apostolate Catholics for the Common Good, joined representatives of the Catholic conference in testifying against the bill at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. He said that by removing parental rights, the bill gives inordinate power to doctors and other health care officials. Additionally, if there are allergic reactions, parents may not know why and may not be able to react in a timely manner, he said.