COLUMBIA, S.C. - Legislation seeking to allow South Carolina to offer free HPV vaccinations to underinsured and uninsured sixth graders to prevent cancer has advanced in the state Senate.

A Medical Affairs Committee on Thursday passed by a 7-2 vote a measure which would also fund publication of brochures to educate parents on the cancer risks posed by the disease, which is transmitted through skin contact.

The Centers for Disease Control and National Cancer Institute say the failure to vaccinate children for human papillomavirus is to blame for the recent rise in cervical and throat cancers.

Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed offering HPV vaccines two years ago despite having sponsored an optional vaccination for seventh grade girls in 2007. Spokesman Doug Mayer says Haley still opposes what she believes is an unfunded mandate.