The Kentucky House of Representatives voted 56-37 last week to require girls in public and private middle schools receive the HPV vaccine. The bill, House Bill 396, would allow parents to decline the vaccination for their daughters. Most insurance plans cover the $360 cost for the three-shot series, and the bill would cover the vaccination cost for low income, uninsured and underinsured girls, according to Medical News Today. A similar bill passed the state House last year, but stalled in the Senate.
HPV vaccines like Guardasil have proven affective against about 70 percent of the HPV strains that are linked to cervical cancer. Kentucky’s cervical cancer rate is among the highest in the country, especially in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Rates there are more than a third higher than the U.S. average — higher than reported rates in Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, reports the Courier-Journal. Death rates in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky are also much higher than the national average.
“We’re protecting our young women with this vaccine. I’ve got faith in this vaccine. I’ve encouraged my daughters and granddaughters and great-granddaughters to get vaccinated,” said State Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, a co-sponsor of the bill, according to the Courier-Journal.