A group of concerned parents are pushing Rhode Island lawmakers to action.
The Rhode Island advocacy group, Alliance to Remove HPV Vaccine Mandate, partnered with the RI Alliance for Vaccine Choice, is currently working with state legislators to remove the mandate requiring vaccinations for the Human papillomavirus (HPV). Their group membership has swelled to 2600 concerned citizens and, to date, over 3000 supporters have signed an online petition to remove mandatory HPV vaccinations in R.I.
In 2014, the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) made a decision to mandate additional vaccines, including the HPV vaccine (e.g. Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix), for male and female students entering seventh grade in both public and private schools. R.I. is 1 of only 2 U.S. states with the vaccination requirement for girls, and the only state to mandate the vaccine for boys.
“HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that is non-communicable by participation in normal school activities.” says Chairwoman of the group, Deborah Z. O’Leary. “At the time the new minimum immunization standards were adopted, there was little opportunity for parents and other engaged citizens to voice their opinions during public hearings. This mandate infringes upon one’s right to informed consent.”
The group is proposing legislation to accomplish the following:
1. Restrict the authority of the DOH to set minimum immunization standards for diseases which are non-transmissible in a school environment.
2. Remove the authority of the DOH to mandate HPV vaccination as a condition of school inclusion.
3. Require the DOH director to hold three public hearings when changes to the minimum standards for immunizations are planned.
4. Reinstate the philosophical exemption while also preserving the religious exemption to vaccinations.
The RI Alliance for Vaccine Choice has bipartisan support in both the Rhode Island House and Senate. Last week they met with several members of the R.I. General Assembly, several of which have already made commitments to submit or support legislation to accomplish the group’s goals.
The group has created The HPV Parent Information Kit for parents and is available to download or print. You will find the packet and other valuable information on the group’s Resources Page. Currently, parents who choose not to vaccinate their child may opt out using the religious exemption form or use a medical exemption form.
“A patient, or the individual responsible for the patient’s care, has a right to make an informed choice about treatment after a physician has accurately presented the medical facts” the group states. “Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must generally honor.”
Shawna Lawton, Media Director of the group, recently made an appearance on the Dan Yorke State of Mind television show. You can watch the entire interview HERE.
“There is a breakdown in informed consent here in Rhode Island. Parents are not being informed about everything that encompasses this vaccine.” said Shawna. “They’re not being informed about the adverse reactions. They’re not being informed that there is a religious exemption form. If I look at the one page that the pediatrician is giving me and I look at the 39 page paperwork that comes from the pharmaceutical company based on this, I was not informed. I want people to call their legislators and tell them that they have a concern with this mandate.”
Media inquiries should contact:
Shawna Lawton, Media Director, RI Alliance for Vaccine Choice
RI Alliance for Vaccine Choice Website
RI Alliance for Vaccine Choice Twitter