Date: January 14, 2013
by Stacy Jacobson
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A local state representative will introduce a bill that would give middle school students better accessibility to information about the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine and to the vaccine itself.
Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed the bill last year. But lawmakers wanted to try again.
HPV can cause cervical cancer, as well as head and neck cancer, doctors said.
Therese Speer is a mother of three, and grandmother of four. She knew what it was like to worry as a parent.
“More information is always a benefit to parents. The more you know, the more informed decision you can make,” Speer said.
She said she supports a new bill called the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act. Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-90th District) proposed it.
“The CDC just stated the cost of cervical cancer in South Carolina is upwards of $25 million. This is something we can head off,” Sellers said.
The bill would make information about the HPV vaccine more available to seventh grade students. The bill would also allow the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer the vaccine through school.
“When that information is provided and parents have opportunity to speak to pediatrician about this vaccine, they overwhelmingly accept it,” MUSC gynecologic oncologist Dr. Jennifer Young-Pierce said.
Officials said the bill had no mandates, only options.
“Too often, people get info from friend or Internet that doesn’t have the most up-to-date information. This is requiring us to provide information to our children’s parents,” Young-Pierce said.
Sellers said only eight states other than South Carolina have fewer deaths from cervical cancer.
Former first lady and mother of four Jenny Sanford said the bill would also save the state money.
“I think it just makes good budget sense. I think the numbers I’ve seen are to vaccinate the population, it might be $1 million or $1.5 million total. And yet, we already spend $6 to $10 million treating that same population,” Sanford said.
Speer said awareness was all she could ask for as a parent.
“I say get the information out there, in the hands of people who need to make decisions,” she said.
Doctors also said boys should get the vaccine because they carry HPV. They also said the Centers for Disease Control ruled the vaccine safe.
Officials said the cost of the information component will be around $200,000. Most children are covered by insurance, officials said.
*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.