State senators postponed a bill Monday that would have repealed the law requiring sixth-grade girls to be immunized from the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
The Senate voted 22-17, with two Republicans joining 20 Democrats, to send the bill back to the Education and Health Committee for consideration in 2013.
House Bill 1112, sponsored by Del. Kathy Byron (R-22nd District), passed the Republican-heavy House of Delegates 62-34 on Jan. 27.
Byron also submitted a similar bill in the 2011 session, which the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected.
"I am extraordinarily glad that the Commonwealth will continue to immunize young people against this deadly disease," Del. Barbara Favola said in a statement. "The best way to eradicate cervical cancer is widespread HPV vaccination. In the past, the most successful immunization programs, such as those for smallpox or polio, required universal vaccination. Cervical cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in the world, but with this vaccination, there is hope for ending the suffering caused by cervical cancer."
Under current law, parents may request their daughters skip the vaccination after reading information that informs of the link between HPV and cancer.
In a newsletter to constituents on Jan. 30, Byron said the vaccination requirement is an overreach of the government's authority on public health matters.
"I am sponsoring this bill because I view the mandate as an unnecessary intrusion on parental rights," Byron wrote. "The other childhood vaccines that Virginia does mandate are there for good reason. The diseases they affect are communicable through casual contact and pose immediate public health hazards. Mandating this vaccine was an expansion by government of its role in public health."
Tell us: Do you think the law mandating HPV vaccinations is necessary or is the General Assembly overreaching its authority? Speak Out in the comments.