Rep. Bakari Sellers reintroducing HPV vaccine legislation
Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg, is reintroducing legislation that would provide free, voluntary vaccinations for human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer and some cases of head and neck cancer, to seventh grade students throughout the state.
Gov. Nikki Haley in June vetoed an identical version of the bill, which garnered significant bipartisan support in the legislature. At the time, she argued the bill was unnecessary because it did not mandate that the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control implement the vaccinations.
Sellers emphasized that the bill would not require parents to vaccinate their children because that is a choice that should be left to individual families — not the state, he said.
“The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently stated that the cost of cervical cancer in South Carolina is upwards of $25 million and this is something that we can head off, this is something that we can stave off,” Sellers said during a press conference at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Hollings Cancer Center on Monday afternoon.
Also speaking at the press conference was Jenny Sanford, a member of the Hollings Cancer Center Advisory Board, who supported the legislation and the importance of providing access to the HPV vaccine.
“I think it makes great sense to spend a little bit of money up front vaccinating children to save lots of money in the long run,” Sanford said.
The cost estimate for implementing the program is not yet clear, Sellers said. Approximately 75 percent of all seventh grade students in South Carolina qualify for a free HPV vaccine through various existing programs. This legislation would ensure that the remaining 25 percent are covered, Sellers said.
Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.