The Comsewogue School District has added its name to the list of districts that are standing up to New York State on a proposal that would mandate the HPV vaccine in state schools.
The proposed amendment to Section 2164 of the public health law would require that all students born after 2009 receive the human papillomavirus vaccine as part of the state’s mandated school immunization program.
In a letter sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Dec. 6, the district detailed its stance on the matter.
“While the vaccination may be helpful in preventing certain forms of cancer, the choice as to whether to have children vaccinated should be made by parents in consultation with their physician,” John Swenning, board president, said in the letter.
The HPV vaccine is designed to prevent cancer-causing infections, but several school districts including Shoreham-Wading River and Three Village have written letters similar to Comsewogue’s saying it is unnecessary.
In a letter signed by the school board and superintendent, SWR said they did not believe it was necessary for a vaccine for something not usually transmitted in schools.
“The HPV vaccination has historically been a parental decision, is not transmitted in schools, lacks the full support of the medical community and would require schools to enforce a widely unpopular mandate by excluding children,” the letter stated. “It should not be adopted.”
The Comsewogue School district went on to say the activities that cause this spread of HPV should not be occurring on school grounds, and HPV is not a public health risk in the school setting. They also said that if this bill passes, it will preclude children from being able to access a public school education.
In addition to the letter, Comsewogue district board held a workshop Dec. 5 to discussed the proposed mandate.
Superintendent Jennifer Quinn said the feeling she got from speaking with local officials is that the proposed mandate will not likely pass, but is still concerned about what it could potentially mean for students and parents in the district.
“They told me that it is not happening,” she said. “I’m concerned that the other immunization changes happened so fast … that this might pass at the 11th hour, which could happen. It has been a little hard to predict lately.”
Quinn and other board members urged parents to reach out to local lawmakers.
“It’s our kids, I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do but they’re telling you what they can put in their bodies,” Swenning said.
Parents in attendance also brought up how the mandate could harm immunocompromised children, who can’t take certain vaccines and how the state may take away exemptions for the HPV vaccine. Current vaccine mandates exempt people who are immunocompromised.
Others were concerned the mandate would take away a parent’s prerogative and choice whether or not their child would get the vaccine.
School officials also brought up the possibility of setting up a legislative committee session between elected officials and residents.