The S.C. Cervical Cancer Prevention Act (H.3204) will allow underinsured adolescents in South Carolina to receive the HPV vaccine at their physician’s office. It will also allow DHEC to provide educational information for parents about the vaccine. The bill does not mandate the vaccine; it simply allows for access and education.
HPV vaccine reduces rates of cervical cancer and other diseases in girls and boys and is recommended for all children by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. As of 2012, South Carolina ranked 18th in new cases of cervical cancer and 11th in cervical cancer deaths in the United States. Yet half of S.C. girls ages 13 to 17 and 80 percent of boys have not received the full series of the vaccine. There are many reasons for this, but inadequate educational resources and financial access to the vaccine are clearly among the major reasons.
It is difficult to describe how frustrating it feels to me as a pediatrician to turn a child away without this important vaccine simply because we are not allowed to use state vaccine funds to provide it.
HPV vaccine is cancer prevention for our children. It is safe. It is effective. Every child in South Carolina should have access to it. Every family should have access to education about it in order to make a truly informed decision. With the passage of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act, these goals can become a reality.
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Deborah Greenhouse, M.D.