The 2017 General Assembly session is picking up steam, and the movement against the HPV vaccine mandate in RI has not lost momentum. Rhode Islanders Against Mandated HPV Vaccinations has continued to rally support and to speak with legislators. Our efforts are paying off. Three bills have been submitted already for 2017 and a fourth may come soon.
Sen. Raptakis has sponsored bill S0047: This bill reverses the mandate of the HPV vaccine required for school, requires the RI Department of Health (RI DOH) to hold three public meetings prior to any future mandates, stipulates that mandates can only be made for diseases transferable in a classroom, and adds back the philosophical exemption option for vaccines.
Sen. Morgan has sponsored bill S0489: This bill reverses the mandate of the HPV vaccine for school, takes away the ability to mandate any vaccines for disease not transmittable in a classroom, and requires three public meetings by RI DOH prior to any vaccine mandates.
Rep. Price has sponsored bill H 5681: This bill give parents the ability to opt out of vaccination for being contrary to their beliefs, not just religious belief.
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is a disease that is spread by intimate personal contact and not by casual contact. HPV has over 100 different strains, and the current vaccine (Gardasil 9) covers nine strains. The RI DOH added the HPV vaccine to the list of mandated vaccines for school inclusion in 2014, and it became effective in 2015. All 7th grade boys and girls are required to begin the series of doses by the start of 7th grade and the second dose by the start of 8th grade. When the series has been started before the age of 15, only two doses are required. Starting the series after the 15th birthday, RI DOH requires three doses.
The same year that it was added to the schedule of vaccines, the RI DOH received a grant for over $600,000 to market the HPV vaccine specifically. The mandate was not public knowledge until after it was already signed and added. Currently, the RI DOH is one of only two in the country that hold the power to mandate vaccinations without public input or legislation introduced for vote. The time is now to take a stand, to take the bureaucrat power away from the RI DOH, and to support the bills that respect the parent’s right to a private choice not tracked by the school department.
In this regard, I am asking you for your help. Please take action now to email your state representative and senator to support these important bills. Click on the link here to send a pre-written email instantly to your state senator and representative. Share this link with friends and family to support the bills and spread awareness. Thank you for standing behind our efforts, we appreciate you, and we need your action now.
Aimee Gardiner is the Director of Rhode Islanders Against Mandated HPV Vaccinations. She is a mother of two in southern Rhode Island. She advocates for personal rights.