This post is part of a series titled, “Homeschool Q&A.” The series features questions we’ve received from parents on a variety of topicsand the answers!

Q. Is my child required to get the HPV vaccine since the immunization law* failed?

A. No, a parent can still “opt-out” their daughter from receiving the HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil. The 2011 bill, which would have removed the vaccination requirement from the Virginia Code, failed to pass; however, the 2007 law still includes an “opt-out” provision for parents.

In 2007, with many objections and great debate, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation requiring girls entering 6th grade to receive a vaccine to protect against some strains of HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. Virginia is the only state that requires the HPV vaccine for girls. Because of many concerns regarding this powerful drug, an opt-out provision for parents was included in the law and still remains.

Virginia Code 32.1-46.3 states:

Because the human papillomavirus is not communicable in a school setting, a parent or guardian, at the parent’s or guardian’s sole discretion, may elect for the parent’s or guardian’s child not to receive the human papillomavirus vaccine, after having reviewed materials describing the link between the human papillomavirus and cervical cancer approved for such use by the Board.

With the “opt-out” provision, no child can be forced to take the vaccine. Parents can simply say no.

* Refers to HB 1419.