Sponsoring Delegate says families should determine what vaccines to give their children.
By Katherine Coates
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – A Senate panel is considering a House-approved bill to eliminate the requirement that girls in Virginia receive the vaccine against the human papillomavirus before entering sixth grade.
The House last week voted 61-33 in favor of House Bill 1419, sponsored by Delegate Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg. The bill has moved to the Senate, where it has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Education and Health.
Byron said she proposed HB 1419 to return medical decisions to families. She said households should determine what vaccines to give children.
“Parents are awake; they are aware of their health care decisions now more than they have ever been. A vote for [HB 1419] is a vote for Virginia parents and families,” Byron told fellow delegates.
The human papillomavirus virus is spread by skin-to-skin and sexual contact. It can cause cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both men and women. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify HPV as a sexually transmitted virus.
The HPV vaccine, called GARDASIL, was approved in 2006 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent cervical cancer in females. Last year, the FDA approved the vaccine to guard against genital warts in males.
The vaccine, which requires three doses, was found to be most successful against cervical cancer when given to girls at a young age.
So in 2007, the General Assembly passed a state law requiring girls to get the first dose of the HPV vaccine before entering sixth grade. The law allows parents to opt out of the requirement. It says: “Because the human papillomavirus is not communicable in a school setting, a parent or guardian, at the parent’s or guardian’s sole discretion, may elect for the parent’s or guardian’s child not to receive the human papillomavirus vaccine, after having reviewed materials describing the link between the human papillomavirus and cervical cancer approved for such use” by the Virginia Board of Health.