Assembly Bill 650, or the Cancer Prevention Act, would mandate HPV vaccines for all California students entering the 8th grade. The law would apply to both public and private schools.
“HPV is a human papillomavirus vaccine. It is the vaccine which prevents from catching cancers for pretty much most cervical cancers," said Dr. Abhishek Mehta, Lompoc Valley Medical Center Pediatrics Director.
It also helps prevent penial cancer in men. The vaccine has been on the market since 2006 with FDA approval and is designed for children after the age of 9, before they become sexually active.
Dr. Mehta says anyone who is sexually active is at risk of getting HPV.
“The argument of parents saying... but my child is not sexually active yet. But always remember that we do not need to wait until that becomes and this vaccine is not a green signal to become sexually active, either," he explained.
One local group is speaking out against the bill.
The San Luis Obispo Moms for Liberty chapter is urging all San Luis Obispo County school districts to oppose AB 659.
“Well, one of the big concerns is the more children being pulled out of school. We already have a decline in enrollment in public education and with the parents who are coming to us right now with their concerns, that's one of the big things — I will pull my kid from school," said Trisha Murray, Moms for Liberty chapter chair. "By moving this bill forward into law, it would basically be removing that right from these 12-year-olds already and also taking the right away from those who choose not to have this vaccine.”
Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Virginia already require the vaccine. If approved in California, exemptions would be considered only for medical reasons and if students are homeschooled.
Hearings on the bill in the state legislature may begin as early as March 14th.