By Ana Bottary

abottary@abc6.com

The Rhode Island Department of Health gave parents the opportunity to pepper them with questions Thursday, about the state making it mandatory for seventh graders, to get the vaccine which protects against the Human Papiloma Virus. It is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U–S.
 
"I certainly don't understand where a mandate would come from, that would say this may protect from sexually transmitted disease but you can't go to school if you don't get it,"says Burrillville resident Manda Ryan.
 
The health departments director, Nicole Alexander Scott, was there to answer parents questions. She says this is a preventative action. While most 7th graders aren't sexually active, getting this vaccine now, will protect them from damage later. Almost every sexually active person will get h–p–v at some point in their lives and can lead to cancer.
 
"The recommendation for giving it at 11–12 is really because that's when the immune response would be the best and the immune effectiveness would be best," says Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott.
 
Many parents don't trust the vaccine's unknown side effects, saying it hasn't been around long enough for them to feel comfortable with it. They also feel the mandate takes away their parental rights.

"Are we living in a dictatorship, or a democracy? what are we living in?,"says one concerned parent during the meeting.
 
"I feel it has been imposed upon the people of Rhode Island, without due deliberation. For the department of health to impose it in an urgent matter, this is not a crisis,"says Providence parent Steven Petteruti.
 
The Health Department doesn't want students missing out on school, which is why they're offering a medical or religious exemption for those who don't want to get their kids vaccinated.
There will be three more meetings like the one tonight. The next one will be in South Kingstown on August 11th.

(C) WLNE-TV 2015