FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 13, 2014) — Legislation aimed at getting more children vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) was amended yesterday so that children would only receive the vaccinations if their parents or guardians took steps to indicate their approval.
Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, said his amendment, which was adopted on a 50-45 vote, “simply adds language that requires the school district to send home information on the HPV vaccine … and it requires a parent to opt-in” if a child’s vaccination is desired.
Prior to being amended, HB 311 called for vaccinations for children unless their parents or guardians provided a written statement opting out. HB 311 is sponsored by Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson, and Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville.
Adults who received HPV vaccinations as children have a lower risk of becoming infected with the virus, which can spread through sexual contact and cause cervical cancer and other diseases.
As amended, HB 311 requires that parents received information on the HPV virus from their children’s schools upon a child’s enrollment in sixth grade. It further states that “a parent or legal guardian of a child shall always be privileged to decide whether he or she wants his or her child to be immunized against human papillomavirus, and shall only be requested to opt-in to a vaccination program…”
In opposing the amendment to his bill, Watkins emphasized that his original proposal would provide parents a chance to opt children out of the vaccinations. “I feel this amendment is intrusive (and) adds additional burden to all our school systems which already are burdened by too much expense,” he said.
HB 311 passed the House on a 60-37 vote. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.