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Conservative Lawmakers Call on R.I. Schools To Oppose State HPV Vaccine Mandate

Conservative Lawmakers Call on R.I. Schools To Oppose State HPV Vaccine Mandate

September 16, 2015 — Two conservative lawmakers are asking Rhode Island school districts to oppose a state requirement mandating that students entering seventh grade be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/14).

Background

The HPV vaccine protects against several strains of the virus, which can lead to cervical, anal, penile and throat cancer. The first vaccine became available in 2006. Shortly thereafter, CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended vaccination for all children ages 11 or 12.

Virginia and Washington, D.C., also require children to receive the vaccine. Rhode Island finalized the immunization decision in summer 2014. Under the Rhode Island rule, students entering seventh grade must receive the vaccine unless their parent seeks a medical or religious exemption (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/27).

Pushback on Law

Reps. Justin Price (R) and Robert Nardolillo (R) said school committees in Coventry, Little Compton and West Warwick passed resolutions asking Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) to reverse the state Department of Health's update to school immunization regulations, and the lawmakers have asked the remaining school districts in the state to pass similar resolutions.

According to the AP/Bee, Price wants to amend the law so that health officials cannot require new vaccines without the legislature's approval.

Meanwhile, Raimondo's spokesperson said the governor reiterated her support for the vaccine, noting that CDC recommends it to protect against cancer (AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/14).