South Carolina Senate Committee Approves HPV Vaccine Bill, Amid Opposition

On Thursday, the Medical Affairs Committee of the South Carolina Senate passed a bill aimed at encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV). The bill would allow, but not require, the state to publish brochures about the vaccine. It would also allow—but, again, not require—the state to offer free HPV vaccines to young people entering seventh grade who are not covered by private insurance or the federally funded Vaccines for Children program. The bill, however, faces opposition from many lawmakers in the state, including the governor.

If the bill is signed into law, an estimated 2,400 students would be eligible for the vaccine, but provision of the vaccines would depend on the availability of federal and state funding. Sen. Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown), chair of the Medical Affairs Committee, told the Associated Press that he supported the bill because it is in everyone’s best interest to educate parents, so they can make an informed decision. He went on to express frustrations with critics who are trying to argue that the bill would make the vaccine mandatory. “What part of optional do they not read in the bill? I don’t understand,” he said. “The bill says it is not mandated. It is an informational thing that DHEC [the Department of Health and Environmental Control] will provide to let people know about it.”

One opponent who seems to be arguing that the bill mandates the vaccine is Gov. Nikki Haley. Her spokesperson, Doug Mayer, said, “As a mother of a teenage daughter, Governor Haley, like the majority of South Carolinians, believes that health decisions like this are best left up to parents and doctors—not state government.”

In 2012, the governor vetoed a bill that also would have offered HPV vaccines. As a state representative, however, Haley sponsored a bill that would have implemented an opt-out vaccine program for seventh-grade girls.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and about 14 million people become newly infected each year. Two strains of the virus, 16 and 18, are responsible for 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer. Approximately 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and about 4,000 die. HPV can also cause cancer of the penis and anus, and is responsible for a recent increase in cases of head and neck cancers.

HPV is easily spread from infected skin to uninfected skin. Transmission of HPV can be prevented by condoms, but only if the infected skin is in an area covered by the condom. If it is on an area such as a man’s scrotum, condoms cannot help reduce transmission.

Transmission can also be prevented by the two available vaccines—Gardasil and Cervarix. Research shows the vaccines are working. A 2013 study that looked at the impact of Gardasil found that despite the fact that only half of teen girls had gotten one dose of the vaccine and fewer than a third had gotten the recommended three doses, the proportion of teen girls infected with the strains of HPV that the vaccine addresses has dropped by 56 percent.

The bill faces opposition in the full senate, including from those members of the Medical Affairs Committee who have already voted against the bill once. Sen. Shane Martin (R-Spartanburg) said he was worried the bill would eventually need funding. He also told the AP, “Our students shouldn’t be forced to do anything like that. It’s not an airborne disease and abstinence works every time.”

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  • Pinkladyapple

    Our students shouldn’t be forced to do anything like that. It’s not an airborne disease and abstinence works every time.”

    This speaks volumes about how the anti sex anti choice brigade feels about women. That unapproved sex should be punished with a pregnancy and even death. They’re willing to put their daughters healths and lives at risk because they’re so terrified of female sexuality. Fine you don’t want to vaccinate your children no government entity can make you. But to deliberately put your childs health at risk because you think your daughters chastity is more important than her potential health is fucking disgusting.

    • cjvg

      Exactly, if you don’t have a problem with other vaccines , you should not have a problem with this one. If you do, it is clearly not about (your) children’s health but about their potential sex life.

      If you do not vaccinate, you do not vaccinate and your position remains consistent. However if you vaccinated your children for all other diseases there is no reason other then an irrational sex obsession not to

  • Minority View

    Laws requiring vaccines to attend school originally applied to illnesses that can be transmitted in school settings. Once vaccines for Hepatitis B were required to attend school, the laws no longer had anything to do with protecting kids in a school setting. I think it is over-reaching to connect vaccines to education, particularly for illnesses that are not transmissible by activities which are legal in a school setting. It really should be up to parents to decide medical care for their children.

    • Arekushieru

      As long as they don’t forcibly withhold or impose treatment on their children.


    Many tests should be taken before the vaccine put into effect.

  • cjvg

    So they have no problems mandating all these other vaccines, but this one that is completely optional and not tied to school participations is a problem for these hypocrites!

    It is all about the sex, clearly it is not offering the best choices for children
    We all know that most kids stay abstinent until marriage (sarcasm)

  • Maurinemeleck

    The HPV vaccine is one of the most dangerous, if not the most, vaccines on the market for children. Stop this law from going any further especially for the health and safety of our children. It has never been thoroughly tested for safety. Hundreds of young girls have had adverse reactions from it, many becoming permanently disabled or have died after receiving it.

    • Cactus_Wren