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O-A Central School District

O-A school district urges Cuomo to reject proposal to mandate HPV vaccine for NY public school students

By Billie Owens

Here is the letter sent to Governor Cuomo today from the Oakfield-Alabama Central School District regarding a proposed amendment to the state health law adding a vaccine for the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus to the list of mandatory immunizations for NY public schoolchildren (verbatim, including boldface italics.)

Dear Governor Cuomo,

We have been made aware of a proposed amendment to Section 2164 of the New York Public Health Law, which would add the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to the list of mandatory immunizations for all children attending public schools. We are aware that a number of our colleagues in other school districts have written to you to voice their opposition to this proposed amendment. The Board of Education and Superintendent of the Oakfield-Alabama Central School District also strongly and vehemently oppose this proposed addition. 

HPV is spread by intimate sexual contact and therefore is not an epidemic infectious disease among school-aged children. Vaccines previously mandated for universal use are those which protect the public's health against agents easily communicated, responsible for epidemics, or causing significant morbidity or mortality among those passively exposed to the illness. HPV is not an agent in that category.

Further, the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics (January, 2007) reasons that the HPV vaccine does not meet the high threshold for mandating. According to the American Medical Association:

“Most infections are harmless, and screening methods (Pap smear and HPV testing) are available to identify individuals who are at risk of cervical cancer, which occurs 10 to 20 years following initial infection. Treatment of precursor lesions by minor surgical procedures is completely effective in preventing cervical cancer. Thus, there is no compelling public health rationale for mandating HPV vaccine in school-aged children.”

The proposed legislation adds HPV to the current list of mandated immunizations for school-aged children and decrees that schools not permit any child to be admitted or to attend school without proof of the HPV vaccination. The only options available for parents are to home school their children or move to a state without mandated immunizations. Mandating the vaccine for school-aged children and denying children admission to school if they don’t comply seems particularly onerous, especially for a disease that is not communicable in the classroom and/or school environment.

We urge you not to dismiss the concerns of those worried about both the rationale for mandating HPV vaccinations and the serious governmental overreach that interferes with the parental ability to make informed medical choices for their children. Please use your influence to reject this amendment.

In education,

Matthew Lamb, President, Board of Education

John C. Fisgus, Superintendent of Schools

Oakfield-Alabama Central School District

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