By Dena Potter, Associated Press
21 January 2011
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The House of Delegates on Friday approved legislation to eliminate Virginia’s unique requirement that sixth-grade girls receive a vaccination against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer.
On a 61-33 vote, the House favored repealing a 2007 law that requires girls receive the vaccine for the human papilloma virus, or HPV. The law went into effect in 2009.
The requirement contains a liberal opt-out policy, allowing parents to deny the vaccine for any reason. Less than one in every five incoming sixth-grade girls received the first of the three-dose vaccine last fall, said Jim Farrell, director of the state Health Department’s Division of Immunization.
Health officials and supporters of the vaccine have said the opt-out policy makes the mandate more of a suggestion than a requirement. Parents can opt out of other required vaccines only for medical or religious reasons.
“It’s really more of an educational mandate, which is a very good thing,” Farrell said.
Still, Republican Del. Kathy Byron argued during debate Thursday that government has no business mandating a vaccine for a sexually transmitted virus. There was no debate on Friday.
“The long-term safety and effectiveness of this vaccine is unknown,” Byron said.