Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) (02.05.12) - Tuesday, February 07,
In 2007, Virginia passed the nation's first law requiring
sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated against human
papillomavirus. While more than 20 states and the District of
Columbia proposed similar measures, mandates passed only in
Virginia and the District.
Nearly every year since, Virginia lawmakers opposed to the HPV
mandate have proposed repealing it. Earlier repeal efforts
died in the Senate; however, this year's bill, which the House
approved on Jan. 27, faces better prospects in the Senate due
to the influx of social conservatives.
Virginia's mandate requires that the state give parents and
guardians information about the vaccine, and that health
departments provide the vaccine to sixth-grade girls for free.
Parents do not need to sign a waiver to opt their daughters
out of the requirement.
A national survey in 2010 found 54 percent of Virginia girls
ages 13-17 had received the first HPV vaccine dose, and 42
percent had gotten all three doses, compared with the national
rates of 49 percent for the first dose and 32 percent for all
Last fiscal year, health departments in Virginia administered
6,479 doses to sixth-grade girls. About 4,000 doses were paid
for through the federal Vaccines for Children program, which
would continue even if the mandate were ended. In the eastern
region, including Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore, the
number of girls vaccinated by health departments grew from 289
before the mandate to about 950 the year after. Nearly 1,500
were vaccinated last fiscal year.
It is unclear how state funding for the vaccine effort would
be affected if the mandate is repealed, said Jim Farrell,
director of the Virginia Department of Health's immunization
division. In New Hampshire, HPV vaccine is offered at no cost
to females ages 11-18, and South Dakota and Washington state
have similar programs.