As Gov. Andrew Cuomo releases his proposals for the legislative session, Republican state lawmakers representing Cattaraugus and Allegany counties are balking at one in particular: mandatory HVP vaccinations for seventh-grade students.
HPV, or human papilloma virus, is a virus that can cause some types of cancer.
State Sen. George Borrello, R-Bemus Point, is against Cuomo’s proposal making the HPV vaccine mandatory for students in seventh grade.
“It should be up to the parents whether their children should be vaccinated against HPV,” he said.
Borrello won the special election in the 57th State Senate District in November to succeed Sen. Catharine M. Young, R-Olean, who resigned last March.
One reason for his opposition is the difficulty in obtaining valid medical exemptions.
“It’s impossible to get medical exemptions,” Borrello said, indicating doctors don’t want to come to the attention of the state Health Department over this issue. “This is a horrible government overreach.”
A new state law went into effect in September requiring all students in public, private or parochial school be up to date on their vaccinations and eliminating the religious exemption.
Borello said he has talked with parents of children with allergies who face potentially severe reactions to vaccines. The proposed law requiring HPV vaccinations would make it difficult to obtain exemptions.
The HVP immunization requirements could come as part of the 2020 state budget, bypassing separate hearings and bills. It will also be coming before the Democrat-controlled Assembly and Senate with a Democratic governor.
“It’s not the thing we should be discussing when we are talking about finances,” Borrello said.
Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, said the HPV issue is an offshoot of the elimination of the religious exemption for childhood vaccinations.
“(The Democrats) feel they can go to the next step, the ‘Nanny State,’ and tell parents what to do with their children,” Giglio said. “I’m obviously going to oppose it.”
Giglio said he understands both sides of the HPV argument. “I’m not arguing the merits. But you are taking the choice away from parents.”
Giglio asked, “When are we going to have public hearings on this? We want a fair hearing. Doctors need to testify and the feds may need to get involved. I want parents to have a place to air their concerns.”