A bill requiring schools to give parents of students entering the sixth grade information about HPV vaccines passed in a Florida Senate health committee today.
The vaccine has become a hot-button issue among conservatives who believe giving young girls a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer promotes promiscuity. HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted virus.
The Florida Legislature’s bill has been introduced by two socially conservative state lawmakers. Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, presented his bill in the Senate health committee today. Altman told committee members that his bill would give parents the information they need to help protect their children from different cancers, including “malignant cancers.”
Some states, such as Texas, have come under fire for requiring parents to give their children the vaccine. Altman’s bill, however, only “recommends” the vaccine.
“I chose the least intrusive way to do this,” Altman said back in January. He also said that he did not approve of how the HPV vaccine had become a political football.
According to the bill:
Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, the parent or guardian of each student entering grade 6 shall be provided information on the availability of vaccination against human papillomavirus as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Such information shall be approved by the Department of Health for dissemination by the Department of Education. The information will, at a minimum, include the connection between the human papillomavirus and cervical cancer as well as other cancers and diseases. The information must also notify the parent or guardian that a vaccine is available to help prevent human papillomavirus infection and that the vaccine is recommended to be given before grade 7 entry.
Altman assured committee members today that his bill is not a mandate, but rather an information service for parents. The argument helped ensure the bill’s passage.