February 5, 2015 — Nevada lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill (SB 117) that would add vaccinations against human papillomavirus and meningitis to the list of inoculations children must receive prior to enrolling in daycare, public school or private school, the AP/Miami Herald reports.
Current state law already requires most schoolchildren to follow medically recommended immunization schedules for several vaccines, including those for measles, polio and whooping cough. Parents are allowed to obtain exemptions for their children for medical or religious reasons (Rindels, AP/Miami Herald, 2/3).
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. It is linked to cervical, vaginal, vulvar, oral, penile and anal cancers, as well as genital warts.
CDC recommends that girls and boys begin the three-dose HPV vaccination series at age 11 or 12 and receive the three doses over an eight-month period. The vaccine can prevent the most common cancer-causing strains of the virus (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/13/14).
About 27% of girls and 7% of boys ages 13 to 17 in Nevada have received all three doses of the vaccine, which is below the national average, according to the AP/Herald.
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Opponents of requiring HPV vaccination have argued that the vaccines promote promiscuity. However, Immunize Nevada Executive Director Heidi Parker said, "Studies have shown that it does not increase promiscuity," adding, "The important message is that [the] HPV vaccine is cancer prevention."
State Sen. Joe Hardy (R), chair of the state Senate committee that sponsored the bill, said, "If we vaccinate people, we can prevent diseases that are not only horrific but deadly."
According to the AP/Herald, the bill will be referred to the state Senate Education Committee (AP/Miami Herald, 2/3).