BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW — Although nothing is set in stone yet, parents in Buffalo said they are against a proposal to make flu and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines mandatory for school children. They gathered in front of the offices of state lawmakers Thursday morning to protest the proposed law.
"It should be our body our choice," said Gina Gentry. "At this point it's not my body my choice. It's my government's body and their choice."
Tom MvGreevy said to him, it's a matter of personal freedom.
"My biggest concerns are this, that there is clearly not an openness to discourse and criticism over the issue," he said. "It's a complicated scientific issue, and if science is going to progress, we need criticism and we need discourse."
Other parents said they believe there are side affects to the HPV and flu vaccines, and that there still isn't enough research on whether or not the shots are safe.
"All the latest vaccines in the United States have been highly scrutinized for safety. And then even after they're approved there are still post-marketing safety surveillance that is conducted by CDC and the manufacturer," said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.
Dr. Burstein said the intention here isn't to force parents to vaccinate their kids no matter what, only if they wish to enroll them in public schools. If not, they can home school their children, something many parents have opted to do, even though it's not easy for everyone.
"I am now home schooling [my daughter], and trying to work full time, and caring for an adult child who was injured by her vaccines," said Christina Kelly.
When it comes to HPV, Dr. Burstein said it is now the number one cause for cervical and oral cancer.
"I mean, what parent wouldn't want to protect their kids against cancer? I mean we finally have a vaccine that prevents many different forms of cancer," she said.
In a statement to 7 Eyewitness News, Assemblyman Pat Burke said:
"In response to today’s protest, I will again reiterate the position that I have already made public. I do not support a mandatory HPV or flu vaccine, but I do think it’s incredibly important to get these vaccinations. We’re heading into dangerous territory when we allow ignorance and junk science to have an equal voice to medicine and scientific research.”
State Senator Tim Kennedy said:
"As a father of three, I believe we need to prioritize the health and well being of all children across New York through responsible, thoughtful, and most importantly, factual decision-making. Thousands of bills are introduced in the state legislature every year, and as with any proposal, my office is in the process of reviewing these pieces of legislation and gathering expertise from medical professionals not just here in Western New York, but across the country. Listening to feedback from parents and the greater community is an important part of that process, and as always, my door remains open."