Rhode Island health bureaucrats are facing an uprising among parents, lawmakers, and even some doctors after issuing a deeply controversial vaccine mandate last month. Unless it is reversed, the decree purports to require that all 7th grade students, generally about 11-years old, be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease (STD) prior to starting school in September. Despite making headlines nationwide amid growing protests and public outrage about what critics say is an attack on parental rights, state officials reportedly have no plans to back down on the HPV shot. Neither do activists, though, and state lawmakers are already vowing to take action.
Leading the public outcry against the mandate is the recently formed grassroots group Rhode Islanders Against Mandated HPV Vaccinations. In a statement to The New American, Aimee Gardiner, co-leader of the organization, said the goal was to protect parental and civil rights. “Mandating a vaccine that is attached to school attendance that is not a public health threat or transferable in the classroom is not okay,” she said. “It is bad public policy, and it is a bad use of power from the Rhode Island Department of Health.”
The campaign, which seeks to have the governor overturn the mandate, uses the Twitter hashtag #NOHPVmandateRI. Gardiner explained that the public was not even informed about the mandate, except in an announcement on the health department’s website, “which is not a place of regular checking for any average citizen.” Most citizens found out about it either from threatening letters sent by schools, or from recent media reports surrounding the growing statewide movement to quash the mandate. Outrage is still growing.
“This vaccine strikes people in different ways,” Gardiner continued. “Many are upset that this is a sexually transmitted disease and the Department of Health is mandating it. That crosses the line with personal and family values and points of appropriate discussions, as many parents feel an STD conversation is not needed at 11 years old.”
Citing U.S. government data, Gardiner also noted that the Gardasil vaccine in question has three times more reported adverse reactions than all other vaccines combined. Numerous deaths and permanent disabilities have been reported following administration of the vaccine. Gardiner also said that there is no proof that the vaccine has stopped a single case of cervical cancer, and that the shot has not been around long enough to know what the long-term side effects might be.
“The Department of Health says it has no plans to reverse the mandate,” she continued. “However, we also have no plans of stopping our efforts until the mandate is reversed.”