SAN DIEGO — Should middle schoolers be required to get the HPV vaccine?
Newly proposed legislation in Sacramento could lead to a new vaccine mandate.
The human papillomavirus infects about 14 million Americans every year and can lead to a number of cancers for both men and women.
This new legislation would require the HPV vaccine for all incoming eighth graders in California's public and private schools, while allowing for some exceptions.
"If there is a way to prevent cancer, why not do this?," said state Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, who proposed this new bill. She pointed out that because this vaccine would be administered years after kids get their MMR shots, they can determine if they have any adverse reactions to vaccine.
"With that additional time, parents of vaccine-vulnerable children have plenty of time to take advantage of the medical exemption that is in the bill," Aguiar-Curry told CBS 8.
"It's a vaccine for cancer prevention," said Dr. Ahmad Bailony, Chief of Pediatrics for Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.
He said that the HPV vaccine, which was first approved in 2006, has continually been proven safe and effective through studies over the years.
"In fact, the evidence is so strong in kids and teenagers that if you get the vaccine and you're under 15 years old, your body elicits such a strong immune response that you only need two doses ever in your life," Dr. Bailony said.
This vaccine can help prevent a number of cancers, according to Dr. Bailony, including most cases of cervical cancer in women, as well head and neck cancers in men.
"If it's a decision between a poke in your arm versus a future risk of cancer, actually it is one of the easier vaccines to recommend," he added.
Many parents appear on board with the idea of requiring the HPV vaccine.
"If you're a parent, you want the best for your kids," said one dad, Ricardo Sanchez
"I think it's a good idea," added father Daumone Tonekaboni. "I think they should have it if it's going to prevent them from getting cancer later on in the future."
Not all parents are on board, though. "Anything mandated makes me a little worried," said mom Destiny Childress.
While she would have about 12 years before her child would get the vaccine, she wants to take that time to learn more about it. "I don't think mandating it is a good idea," Childress told CBS 8. "But we should always have options."
"The most important thing that we can do is talk with each, sit down and see what the science shows, and go from there," said Dr. Bailony.
Rhode Island, Virginia, Hawaii and D.C. already require the HPV vaccine for students.
Hearings on this proposed legislation will begin next month. If it does ultimately pass the Assembly and State Senate, and is signed into law by the Governor, it could go into effect beginning next year.
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