Virginia fails to pass bill to expand HPV vaccine mandate to boys

A bill that would expand the vaccine mandate for human papillomavirus to boys in the state of Virginia was recently unanimously voted down by the House Health, Welfare and Institutions subcommittee.

Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) sponsored the bill that would delete the words "for females" from a statute that requires parents to vaccinate children against HPV. Six years ago, Virginia's General Assembly passed the mandate, which included a loophole allowing parents to opt out of the vaccine after their doctor provides information on HPV risks, the Virginian-Pilot reports.

If the bill, HB1614, had passed, it would have expanded the mandate to boys and ensured that Medicaid would pay for the vaccine for people who cannot afford it. Most health insurance plans typically cover the HPV shot for males and females.

The Virginia Catholic Conference and the Family Foundation, a socially conservative advocacy group, opposed the measure.

"Doctors are already doing this and working with parents on this, and that's the way that it should be done," Chris Freund, the foundation's vice president of policy and communications, said, according to the Virginian-Pilot. "And the General Assembly doesn't need to be involved."

Several medical groups, including the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, supported Hope's bill.

"This is something that should be covered," Hope said, according to the Virginian-Pilot. "This clarifies for people who are poor and can't afford it."

In 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that boys receive the HPV vaccine. Hope said that vaccination prevents the recipients from HPV symptoms, from cancer and from spreading the disease to their partners after becoming sexually active, the Virginian-Pilot reports.