PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Before going back to school, kids in Rhode Island have to get vaccinated for about a dozen diseases and illnesses – and now there’s another vaccination that is required.
Every year, incoming seventh graders are required to be vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and meningitis. This fall, they also have to be vaccinated for HPV – on top of the other vaccinations they’ve already had, like measles, mumps, and chicken pox.
Some parents think the mandatory vaccination requirement is too much – but one local doctor told Eyewitness News it’s all done to keep kids safe.
Pediatrician Adam Pallant from Hasbro Children’s Hospital said anything that keeps children healthy is okay in his book – though he says he does understand the concerns some parents have about the HPV vaccine.
According to Pallant, the risk of vaccines is far less the risk of the diseases they prevent.
“I’ve had the blessing over 20 years of giving vaccines every single day, and in those 20 years I’ve never ever seen a severe side effect. But I have seen children die of the disease that we can now protect against,” he explained.
The CDC says HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, which can, in some cases, lead to cervical cancer.
“Were every person to be vaccinated, some 10,000 woman could be spared cervical cancer in the future,” Pallant explained.
He said that if parents have any questions or concerns, they should talk to their child’s doctor about the pros and cons of the vaccine.
And there are two exemptions parents can use to get their children out of the vaccine.
“There is a medical exemption and a religious exemption,” said Donna Lemon of the RI Certified School Nurse Teacher Association.
Some people wonder why there is even a need for a vaccine because the diseases they protect against are no longer common in the U.S. Pallant said vaccines are still necessary because they have essentially eliminated some of the diseases – but it can only stay that way if people continue to keep their precautions up.