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Feb. 7, 2007|
Governor Perry Tramples on Rights of Texas' Parents |
Governor Rick Perry issued an Executive Order on Friday, February 2, 2007, mandating the vaccination with Gardasil of all little girls entering the sixth grade in Texas, commencing in September, 2008. His Edict usurps the right of parents to make medical decisions for their minor children leaving them to bear the responsibility for the care of a child who may suffer a severe reaction to the vaccine. This is terribly wrong.
Gardasil is a vaccine developed by Merck & Co. to prevent the transmission of four strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted disease that causes 70% of all cervical cancers in addition to genital warts. The vaccine is administered in three successive shots at a total cost of about $360. If Merck can manage to get the vaccine mandated in every state, the estimated sales amount to $4 billion, with a new population of sixth-grade girls coming along every year. With 1.9 million Texas children on Medicaid and presumably half of those being girls, the cost could be $300+ million to that program alone, to say nothing of families on the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There is a lot of money to be made at the expense of little girls and their parents. Merck is still suffering the financial losses accompanying the FDA's withdrawal of their pain-killer Vioxx from the market.
Merck has been spending millions of dollars to promote the vaccine in every state, hiring lobbyists such as Governor Perry's former chief of staff Mike Toomey, to the tune of $250,000. The vaccine is being promoted through an activist organization called Women in Government which is made up of female state legislators. One of its state directors is Dianne White Delisi, mother-in-law of Governor Perry's current chief of staff, Deirdre Delisi. (Associated Press, 2/2/07) The Women in Government website provides a list of its supporters. Of the 81 companies listed more than half are pharmaceutical and health-related, giving the impression that their role is to carry out the agendas of the drug companies in their respective legislative bodies.
The safety and effectiveness of Gardasil has been called into question. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that the incubation period for the HPV virus is about 20 years and the median age of women diagnosed with cervical cancer is 48, yet in clinical trials, the vaccine's effectiveness was only followed for about 4 years. The CDC also says there are more than 100 strains of HPV, over 30 strains are sexually transmitted, yet Gardasil covers only 4 strains. Claims that cervical cancer is prevented by vaccinating pre-teen girls should not be made.
Even if Gardasil does protect against cervical cancer, and there is doubt about that, it would not prevent 30% of cases.
The chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infections Diseases, Joseph A. Boccini, told the Washington Post (1/10/07) that he thinks it is premature to make the vaccine mandatory. "I think it's too early. This is a new vaccine. It would be wise to wait until we have additional information about the safety of the vaccine," he said. The American College of Pediatricians is opposed to requiring HPV vaccination for school attendance, and said so in a letter to the California State Legislature on January 25, 2007. They said that requiring vaccination for a disease which is spread only through sexual contact is a "serious, precedent-setting action that trespasses on the right of parents to make medical decisions for their children as well as on the rights of the children to attend school."
The FDA's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has already received 82 reports of serious adverse events following HPV vaccination with Gardasil since its approval last June. Merck is absolved from liability for the injuries and deaths caused by the HPV vaccine through the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, leaving families, not Governor Perry, to deal with the emotional and monetary costs of the harm caused by the vaccine.
The vaccine is available. Parents who wish to have their children inoculated may do so. But it is wrong for parents to be required to go through a burdensome bureaucratic process in order to "opt-out" of the Governor's mandate. At this point it is unknown whether private and parochial schools will even accept the "opt-out" procedure.
This is a parental rights issue. It is a health and safety issue. And it is an issue of perceived undue influence upon public officials. If Governor Perry refuses to withdraw his unfair mandate, the Texas Legislature must use every possible means to reverse it.
IF YOU LIVE IN TEXAS, PLEASE HELP BY PHONING OR FAXING THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE TO DEMAND THAT HE REVERSE HIS EXECUTIVE ORDER REQUIRING THE HPV VACCINE FOR ALL 11-YEAR OLD GIRLS.
PHONE: Chief of Staff, Deirdre Delisi - 512/463/1762 FAX: 512/463-5571
IF YOU LIVE IN A STATE OTHER THAN TEXAS, BE FORWARNED. THE WOMEN IN GOVERNMENT
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