February 03, 2007
Perry's vaccination order

If you do a good thing for a bad reason, is it still a good thing?

Acting on an issue that is stirring controversy in the Legislature, Gov. Rick Perry on Friday made Texas the first state to require girls to get a new vaccine for a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

The executive order, which would apply to all girls entering sixth grade next year, prompted surprise and relief from one lawmaker who didn't think her bill requiring the same would have passed. But it so angered many social conservatives who have consistently backed Perry that they suggested money and political ties to the vaccine's manufacturer were behind the decision.

Perry's office insisted that protecting girls ages 11 and 12 against the human papilloma virus was a public health issue, not politics.

"Requiring young girls to get vaccinated before they come into contact with HPV is responsible health and fiscal policy that has the potential to significantly reduce cases of cervical cancer and mitigate future medical costs," Perry said in a press release.

"This is 'follow the money' if I've ever seen it," said Cathie Adams, president of Texas Eagle Forum.

Yes, Rick Perry may have acted in the best interest of a major campaign donor with whom he has close ties. In other news, the sun will rise in the East tomorrow.

Be that as it may, and putting the FRC's objectively pro-cancer position straight into the trash can where it belongs, this is a good thing, and I applaud Governor Perry for doing it, whatever his motivation may have been.

"I'm very proud of the governor for this bold move that sends a signal not only to the people in Texas but nationwide that Texas will opt to protect their daughters from cancer," said Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio, who has a bill to add the HPV vaccine to the state's required immunizations.

Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, who has filed a similar bill, said her legislation faced an uphill battle in the Texas House because of opposition from the Eagle Forum and other groups.

"I think it's wonderful," said Dr. Maurie Markman, vice president for clinical research at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. "I don't know any details, but I think it's exciting to be in the first state to make a statement about preventing the infection shown to cause cancer."

Here's some background, if that helps. Lord knows, whatever spurred Perry to take this action - and in case you haven't noticed, there's pretty much nothing he does any more that isn't scrutinized through the lens of whose bread is being buttered; the notion that he might be motivated by a desire to Do The Right Thing and Make The World A Better Place is way too quaint for this administration - he did it and it was good. As I don't expect to say those words very often, I'll gladly take it when I can.

Just one small question:

Perry's order directs the Health and Human Services Commission to adopt rules for the requirement, which is effective in September 2008.

Parents would be allowed to opt their daughters out for medical, philosophical, religious or moral reasons, as they can do now for other required vaccines.

The governor also ordered state health officials to make the vaccine immediately available to eligible females through state programs that provide free and reduced-cost vaccines to children from low-income families and for women ages 19 to 21 who qualify for Medicaid. Krista Moody, a spokeswoman for Perry, said it would cost the state $29 million to administer the shots to these girls and women up to age 21.

Critics say the vaccine is expensive -- $360 to $600 for the three required doses -- and hasn't been on the market long enough. Moody said most private insurers would be expected to cover a vaccine that is required to attend school.

I don't see how you can say that Texas is "requiring" girls to get this vaccine if parents can opt out for "medical, philosophical, religious or moral reasons". Sounds to me like this is more of an Executive Suggestion, with funding to make the vaccine available to people who might have wanted it but couldn't afford it. The Cathie Adamses of the world are still free to do what they want with their own daughters, they just now have less say over other people's. Which is fine by me. South Texas Chisme, TexasKaos, and PinkDome have more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 03, 2007 to Show Business for Ugly People

The problem with opt-outs is that while I'd prefer that they not be available in this case, I would prefer that they be available to, say, people in the army who are being asked to take vaccines with dangerous adjuvants.

So, sadly, I have to support opt outs.

I would also support kids being able to request them without parental notification, and I hope that happens.

Posted by: julia on February 4, 2007 12:02 AM

The vaccine may or may not be a good idea - I know lots of liberals like it, though I find comparisons to polio vaccines either stupid or intentionally manipulative.

However, my objection is the process. I don't want the Texas Governor, this one or any governor, to have the authority to spend hundreds of millions of dollars via executive order. Even if this is a good thing, there are many good things one can spend money on, and the legislative budget process is how a democratic system allocates resources among them. IMO, no governor should have the power to decide such huge expenditures by fiat.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast on February 4, 2007 8:20 AM

The Facts About GARDASIL

1. GARDASIL is a vaccine for 4 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), two strains that are strongly associated (and probably cause) genital warts and two strains that are typically associated (and may cause) cervical cancer. About 90% of people with genital warts show exposure to one of the two HPV strains strongly suspected to cause genital warts. About 70% of women with cervical cancer show exposure to one of the other two HPV strains that the vaccine is designed to confer resistance to.

2. HPV is a sexually communicable (not an infectious) virus. When you consider all strains of HPV, over 70% of sexually active males and females have been exposed. A condom helps a lot (70% less likely to get it), but has not been shown to stop transmission in all cases (only one study of 82 college girls who self-reported about condom use has been done). For the vast majority of women, exposure to HPV strains (even the four "bad ones" protected for in GARDASIL) results in no known health complications of any kind.

3. Cervical cancer is not a deadly nor prevalent cancer in the US or any other first world nation. Cervical cancer rates have declined sharply over the last 30 years and are still declining. Cervical cancer accounts for less than 1% of of all female cancer cases and deaths in the US. Cervical cancer is typically very treatable and the prognosis for a healthy outcome is good. The typical exceptions to this case are old women, women who are already unhealthy and women who don't get pap smears until after the cancer has existed for many years.

4. Merck's clinical studies for GARDASIL were problematic in several ways. Only 20,541 women were used (half got the "placebo") and their health was followed up for only four years at maximum and typically 1-3 years only. More critically, only 1,121 of these subjects were less than 16. The younger subjects were only followed up for a maximum of 18 months. Furthermore, less than 10% of these subjects received true placebo injections. The others were given injections containing an aluminum salt adjuvant (vaccine enhancer) that is also a component of GARDASIL. This is scientifically preposterous, especially when you consider that similar alum adjuvants are suspected to be responsible for Gulf War disease and other possible vaccination related complications.

5. Both the "placebo" groups and the vaccination groups reported a myriad of short term and medium term health problems over the course of their evaluations. The majority of both groups reported minor health complications near the injection site or near the time of the injection. Among the vaccination group, reports of such complications were slightly higher. The small sample that was given a real placebo reported far fewer complications -- as in less than half. Furthermore, most if not all longer term complications were written off as not being potentially vaccine caused for all subjects.

6. Because the pool of test subjects was so small and the rates of cervical cancer are so low, NOT A SINGLE CONTROL SUBJECT ACTUALLY CONTRACTED CERVICAL CANCER IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM -- MUCH LESS DIED OF IT. Instead, this vaccine's supposed efficacy is based on the fact that the vaccinated group ended up with far fewer cases (5 vs. about 200) of genital warts and "precancerous lesions" (dysplasias) than the alum injected "control" subjects.

7. Because the tests included just four years of follow up at most, the long term effects and efficacy of this vaccine are completely unknown for anyone. All but the shortest term effects are completely unknown for little girls. Considering the tiny size of youngster study, the data about the shortest terms side effects for girls are also dubious.

8. GARDASIL is the most expensive vaccine ever marketed. It requires three vaccinations at $120 a pop for a total price tag of $360. It is expected to be Merck's biggest cash cow of this and the next decade.

These are simply the facts of the situation as presented by Merck and the FDA.

For a more complete discussion on GARDASIL with sources, click on my name.

Posted by: stickdog on February 6, 2007 2:56 AM

There are 100 strains of HPV. This vaccine only protects against 4 of them. This is NOT about protecting girls or Perry would have told Merck to come back when they have a vaccine for all 100 strains.

And if Merck can engineer AIDS prevention drugs for 6th graders to give them a mega-boost to their immune system, Perry will be able to happily DOUBLE Merck's customers because they will then be able to sweep the boys into it too. So why target girls? Why not monkey with boys so that they are impotent until they are 18? That would stop this STD too wouldn't it? How about Rick make a law that all 6th grade boys must wear a condom at all times unless they are urinating? If Trojan had Merck's financing then that invasive scenario would be happening instead, guaranteed.

Do you know that after this windfall, Merck has renewed optimism in pursuing other state governors? By federal law, Merck's #1 goal is to make profit for their shareholders. Don't ever forget that. This is disgusting and reaching and self-serving. Anything man made is imperfect. Period. Remember all of the bad vaccine batches and yearly drug recalls? So, everyone ready for a few generations of sterile young women? I see it coming. By the time this Merck 'vaccine' gets recalled we will have several generations of sterile women. "I'm sorry you can't have children sweetie, I let the state take over your personal medical and sexual guidance."

Remember the contraceptive 'patch'? The commercials showed 'the patch' on a woman's hip as she gets out of the swimming pool, etc. Turns out it boosts estrogen by 300% which produces excessive blod clots = strokes/heart attacks. 23 women have died from it. Oopsy. The top executives did get some serious bonuses though because the profit reports on it were phenomenal. Maybe something like $1 billion per dead woman.

Don't just lay down for this. There is an opt-out clause in the new law which allows a parent to decline the 'vaccine' based on their own personal philosophical beliefs or religious beliefs. My philosophical belief is that the state doesn't need to get all 6th grade girls ready for STD free sex.

Posted by: Paul on February 6, 2007 4:46 AM