Girls entering the sixth grade in Virginia are already required to get vaccinated for HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. By law, parents can opt out of the HPV immunization, if they wish. Still, the measure isn’t without controversy — Republicans in the General Assembly nearly succeeded in lifting the mandate last year.
Hope’s bill would simply remove two words — “for females” — from the mandate, thus requiring boys to receive the vaccines too. Hope said he realizes his bill is not likely to see the light of day on the House of Delegates, but proposed it because it’s consistent with current medical best practices. In boys, the HPV vaccine can prevent certain types of genital warts and cancers, and prevent them from spreading the disease to girls, who can suffer more serious consequences from contracting it.
“Given last session where a majority of House Republicans wanted to gut existing law that simply recommends girls receive the vaccine, this legislation will be met with extreme opposition,” Hope told ARLnow.com. “But there is absolutely no controversy within the medical community: Immunizing boys against HPV will help save lives.”
“As the father of three young girls, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect them,” Hope continued. “I just hope we can let the expertise of the medical community guide our policy decisions and not let politics get in the way.”