Virginia governor proposes amendments to HPV vaccine bill

[JURIST] Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) [official website] has proposed amending a bill requiring girls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) [US CDC fact sheet], a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, to allow parents to opt out of the mandate more easily. Kaine announced his recommendation Monday rather than sign the bill, as he had pledged to do [JURIST report] despite concerns about the adequacy of the opt-out provision [Virginian-Pilot report]. Kaine suggested that the General Assembly strike a requirement from the bill [HB 2035 text] that parents and guardians use a state-mandated form to exempt a child from vaccination. In place of that language, Kaine's recommendation [text] inserts the following:

Because the human papillomavirus is not communicable in a school setting, a parent or guardian, at the parent or guardian's sole discretion, may elect for their child not to receive the human papillomavirus vaccine, after having reviewed materials describing the link between the human papillomavirus and cervical cancer approved for such use by the Board [of Health Regulations for the Immunization of School Children].
In explaining his recommendation, Kaine said [press release] that the decision on whether to vaccinate should rest with parents. A provision [text] of the Virginia Constitution allows the governor to return a passed bill to the General Assembly for reconsideration of one or more "specific and severable amendments." Lawmakers are expected to consider Kaine's recommendation when they reconvene for one day on April 4. AP has more.

In New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson (D) has announced that he plans to sign a similar bill [PJEPHL report]. Legislation related to the HPV vaccine is under consideration in dozens of other states.

This report was prepared in partnership with the Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law.


 

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