Florida proposed law would require students to vaccinate against HPV

Published: Jan. 23, 2018 at 8:10 PM EST
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A bill introduced in Florida would require public school legislature to make it mandatory for public school students to get vaccinated for human papilloma virus (HPV).

According to the CDC, the vaccine is given in a series of two shots and is recommended for boys and girls ages 11 and 12, to prevent against the infection that can cause a range of cancers, including cervical, anal, throat and neck, and vaginal.

State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, D-Miami, filed the bill on January 4.

"The preference is to start the vaccine series before someone would be exposed to the HPV virus," said Jylmarie Lewis with the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County. A similar push for the bill failed in 2011.

HPV vaccination rates increased in Florida over the past decade, according to the CDC. The state also has one of the highest rates for cervical cancer.

"We're close to eliminating a cancer and the first cancer we're going to see eliminated is cervical cancer and the way we do that is to get as many people vaccinated as possible," said Dr. Ann Giuilano, director of the Center for Infection Research at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.

If passed, the bill would be called the “Women’s Cancer Prevention Act” and take effect on July 1. Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington D.C. have similar mandates for the HPV vaccine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.