New Pending California Legislation Would Require College Students to Get the HPV Vaccine

A California state legislator named Cecilia Aguiar-Currey has proposed a bill that requires new college students in California to receive the HPV vaccine. The purpose of the bill is to reduce the cases of cervical cancer in the state.

The AB 659 legislation specifies that middle school staff must contact the parents of students and recommend that their children receive the HPV vaccination prior to starting eighth grade. The proposed bill initially required new eighth graders to receive the vaccine, but other lawmakers wanted the mandate removed. So, it is only a recommendation rather than a requirement.

Since ages 11 and 12 are when health officials want people to receive the vaccine, it will help protect children against the HPV strains known to cause cancer. The idea is to help children build enough antibodies against these strains before they enter their sexually active years.

California may be a deep blue state, but anti-vaccine sentiment is still there. The nation learned that all too well during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. However, the AB 659 legislation still has an HPV vaccine mandate for public college students aged 26 and under. College students within this age range must present proof of HPV immunization before starting their semesters.

The HPV vaccine has been around since the year 2006. Anti-vaccine activists have tried to spread false rumors about the vaccine by saying it inflicts neurological damage in people, but these rumors have been proven to be unfounded. Still, under 55% of children between 13 and 15 received the HPV vaccine in 2020. Merck is the drug manufacturer that makes the HPV vaccine. Those who want to vaccinate themselves or their children must pay $268 for a single dose.

More children have gotten other routine shots and vaccinations, such as the Tdap vaccine for protection against pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria. A big reason for that is most states have no HPV vaccine mandates in place for students in school. The only three states and districts with HPV vaccine mandates for sixth and seventh graders are Rhode Island, Hawaii, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Of course, Republican legislators in red states have pushed back aggressively against all vaccine mandates, especially the COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Idaho and Montana Republicans are already proposing new legislation to reduce private-sector and government vaccine requirements. Iowa Republican lawmakers don’t even want school officials to notify parents about the importance of the HPV vaccine for students, despite Iowa having the second-highest cancer rate in the United States.

Virtually every sexually active person will contract HPV at least once in their lifetime. Fortunately, they don’t experience any symptoms in most infection cases. But, on the downside, some HPV strains can stay inside the body and turn into cancers like anal cancer, vulval cancer, vaginal cancer, cervical cancer, throat cancer, or penile cancer.

Numerous medical research studies have shown that the HPV vaccine has lowered the cancer risk for almost 90% of children who receive it in their preteen years. That is why states that have passed HPV vaccine mandates in their state legislatures have seen significant reductions in women who get cervical cancer.

Sadly, HPV continues to cause over 37,000 cancer cases in the country each year. Not only that, but cervical cancer continues to take the lives of over 4,000 women annually. Perhaps the American Government should follow Australia’s lead because Australia may be on the way to successfully eradicating all cervical cancer in the country over the next 20 years. The reason can be attributed to the country’s nationwide school program, where school nurses offer to vaccinate children aged 12 and 13 if they wish to get the vaccine.