Hawaii State Sen. Roz Baker wants to require children to get at least one dosage of the human papillomavirus vaccine prior to attending seventh grade, beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.

Senate Bill 2316 would also allows pharmacists to prescribe the vaccine to teens between 11 and 17 years of age.

Sen. Roz Baker at a legislative forum at the YWCA on Richards Street Jan. 28.
Sen. Roz Baker at a legislative forum at the YWCA on Richards Street Jan. 28. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The bill’s language explains its purpose, which is to improve health:

The legislature finds that human papillomavirus is a very common virus that can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women; penile cancer in men; and anal cancer, cancer of the throat, and genital warts in both men and women. 

The legislature also finds that the human papillomavirus vaccine is available and protects against infection and the cancers caused by human papillomavirus. 

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that preteen boys and girls receive the human papillomavirus vaccine at age eleven or twelve so they are protected prior to any exposure to the virus.

At a panel discussion last week about the Women’s Legislative Caucus, Baker spoke emotionally about the need for the bill.

“This is not about trying to prevent people from having sexual activity,” she said. “It’s about preventing cancer.”

Baker said she is a 40-year cervical cancer survivor. Her doctor told her she likely inadvertently contracted the disease from her husband.

SB 2316 has a hearing Tuesday before two Senate committees, including one chaired by Baker. The legislation is likely to gain opposition from groups who oppose personal mandates.

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