Bill would offer free cervical cancer vaccine
Seventh-grade students in South Carolina could get a free vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted, cancer-causing virus under a bill advanced Thursday by a House panel.
The measure provides the option to students who are entering the seventh grade. Informational brochures on the vaccine for human papillomavirus, known as HPV, would be provided to parents of sixth-graders.
State Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg, said his bill is about saving lives and money. The cost of providing the vaccine would be far less than taxpayers paying later through Medicaid and emergency room visits to treat cervical cancer, he said. “We save ourselves so much money in the long run.”
Similar legislation received a walloping in the House in 2007. It required girls entering seventh grade in public and private schools to get the vaccine, unless parents signed a form opting out. Following a campaign against it led by the S.C. Baptist Association and a group that advocates abstinence, the main sponsor moved to kill her own bill, and it was defeated unanimously.
Sellers, a co-sponsor on that bill, said it was probably too aggressive. He hopes to stem opposition by making it completely voluntary.
More than 6 million people nationwide are infected with HPV annually, which can cause cervical cancer. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel recommended in 2006 that the vaccine be given to all 11- and 12-year-old girls.
The House panel approved an amendment tying the program’s start to funding. The Department of Health and Environmental Control would not provide the free service until it has the money to do so. Agency spokesman Mark Hough said it would come down to legislators providing the money in the budget.
Sellers’ measure advances to the full Medical, Military and Municipal Affairs Committee.
Finlay endorses Bolchoz in council race
Former Columbia City Councilman Kirkman Finlay III on Thursday endorsed Robert Bolchoz in Tuesday’s election for a citywide council seat.
“He’s a personal friend and I can vouch for his integrity, honesty and common sense,” Finlay said in a statement.
Bolchoz is among three candidates in Tuesday’s race for an at-large seat that is held by Councilman Daniel Rickenmann. Rickenmann is not seeking a third term.
Finlay has announced he will file to become a Republican candidate for the House District 75 seat held by retiring GOP state Rep. Jim Harrison.
Filings: Primary elections
Area candidates who filed Thursday to run in the June 12 primary elections, including candidates for the state’s new 7th Congressional District, representing areas of the Grand Strand and Pee Dee. Filing continues through Friday. See a list of previously published filings at thestate.com/elections. “I” denotes incumbent.