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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

VIRGINIA: Five Years After HPV Vaccine Law, State Remains Split


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 three.

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It is unclear how state funding for the vaccine effort would be affected if the mandate is repealed, said Jim Farrell, director of the Virginia Department of Health's immunization division.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.


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