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South Carolina Senate Committee Approves HPV Vaccine Bill, Amid Opposition

RH Reality Check , 05/19/2014 by Martha Kempner

RH Reality Check reported that the South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee passed a bill last week that would allow the state to offer the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to underinsured seventh graders and create information brochures about the vaccine. The availability of the vaccine would depend on funding, and the bill would not require the state to provide, nor parents to accept, the vaccine. The committee estimated that 2,400 students would be eligible to receive the vaccine if the bill becomes law. There is still opposition from other lawmakers, including the governor, who believe medical and health decisions should remain between parents and doctors. The governor supported the bill when she was a state representative. Critics also argue the vaccine would become mandatory. “What part of optional do they not read in the bill? I don’t understand. The bill says it is not mandated. It is an informational thing that [the Department of Health and Environmental Control] will provide to let people know about it,” said Sen. Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown), chair of the Medical Affairs Committee. Cleary argued that the bill allows parents to become educated about HPV and the availability of the vaccine. The HPV vaccine will protect men and women from getting the disease that is responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancers, as well as other head, neck, penile, and anal cancers. According to CDC, 12,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, causing 4,000 annual deaths, and approximately 79 million Americans currently have HPV.

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