Associated Press (03.30.12) - Friday, March 30, 2012
A House panel on Thursday advanced a bill that would provide
free vaccination against human papillomavirus to seventh-grade
students. Parents of sixth-graders would receive informational
brochures about HPV and the vaccine.
"We save ourselves so much money in the long run," said Rep.
Bakari Sellers (D-Denmark), the bill's sponsor, noting that it
would be more economical to provide the vaccine than to treat
cervical cancer, most cases of which are caused by HPV.
A 2007 House bill would have required seventh-grade girls to
receive the vaccine unless their parents opted out. The South
Carolina Baptist Association and an abstinence group led a
campaign against that measure, which was defeated unanimously
after its main sponsor moved to kill it. Sellers, who co-
sponsored the earlier bill, hopes the entirely voluntary
nature of the current measure will overcome opposition to it.
The panel also approved an amendment stating that the
Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) cannot
begin offering the free vaccine until legislators provide the
The HPV vaccine is available in South Carolina and across the
nation through the Vaccines for Children program for youths
enrolled in Medicaid, as well as for some who are under-
insured or uninsured. If the new bill passes, DHEC estimates
1,450 more students would be vaccinated each year at a cost of
$373,000, plus minor administrative fees.
The bill now advances to the full Medical, Military and
Municipal Affairs Committee.