HPV Vaccination for School Attendance

Published on January 31st, 2020

Memorandum of Opposition

S.298-B (Hoylman) / A.2912-A (Paulin)
In relation to requiring the HPV vaccination for school attendance

The above-referenced legislation would require children entering seventh grade to be immunized against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in order for them to attend public or private school. Because this proposal would seriously undermine parental authority, the New York State Catholic Conference opposes it and urges that it be defeated.

Vaccinating against the human papillomavirus, known as HPV, is unlike vaccinating against measles or mumps because HPV will not be spread by ordinary contact in a school setting. The HPV virus can only be transmitted through sexual activity.

The Catholic Church believes that immunizing against disease is an important and morally responsible action. The prevalence of HPV in the reproductive age population makes exposure to the virus possible, even in a monogamous marriage, due to the possibility of a spouse’s exposure prior to marriage. We also live in a society where sexual assault remains a threat to young people who deserve to be protected from the effects of exposure to HPV.

We believe that HPV vaccination can be a responsible and morally acceptable method of protection against certain cancers and we support the right of parents to choose the vaccine for their children. However, addressing the subject of sexually transmitted disease is part of a parent’s indispensable task of teaching their children about sexuality and protecting their health and safety. Government policy should not pressure or undermine parental authority in this area.

New York State government has been aggressive in enacting new laws to designed to protect parental rights and safeguard the well-being of minors. Recent laws include one which requires parental consent before a minor can receive a body piercing and another preventing a minor from tanning at a tanning salon. In November 2019, the legal age to purchase tobacco products in our state went up to 21. The passage of S.298-B/A.2912-A would be inconsistent with these previous legislative actions.

We join with the national Catholic Medical Association in opposing mandatory HPV vaccination as a requirement for school attendance, out of respect for parental autonomy and a lack of risk to other students while at school. The parents or guardians in each family should make their own assessment when considering whether to vaccinate a child. We therefore urge you to oppose this legislation.