Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bob Barr on the HPV vaccine

Don't mandate new vaccine
Cervical
cancer shot for girls has ethical problems
by Bob Barr special to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, February 14, 2007 at 9:00 AM

Government just can never find enough things to study, regulate and mandate. Regardless of whether one has a "D" or an "R" following their name, contemporary elected officials at the federal, state and local level are drawn insatiably to control those citizens unfortunate enough to fall under their jurisdiction.

The risk of bad government regulation becomes especially acute when private industry's drive for profit teams with government's drive to control, to create a "perfect storm" of government control. This is happening in Texas, where that state's Republican governor, Rick Perry, is attempting by executive order to force preteen girls attending Texas schools to be vaccinated against cervical cancer and genital warts.

The GOP governor's attempted mandate, which is being challenged in the
Texas legislature, follows on the heels of last year's recommendation by Washington that 11- and 12-year-old girls be vaccinated against human papillomavirus or HPV, using the Gardasil vaccine that had just been approved by the FDA in June 2006.

Of course, whenever the federal government recommends that something occur, proposals to mandate such action quickly follow, and do-gooders in the Congress likely will take up this cause shortly. However, not content to wait for further action from
Washington, many state legislatures and governors are rushing to fill the newly discovered void. While Perry's heavy-handed action is the most recent and visible action, other states are gearing up to follow suit.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer already has proposed spending taxpayer dollars in an effort to begin pushing Gardasil. One
New York legislator gushed over the Texas governor's more forceful action, calling it "terrific" and a move to be emulated in the Empire State. Further south, Virginia appears poised to fall in line with the Gardasil bandwagon, and many other states are moving in that direction.

Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures Gardasil, is not simply standing by to answer questions from concerned legislators and health officials. The company is pulling out all stops in an effort to secure legislation mandating vaccination with its product. Campaign contributions are flowing freely in
Texas and elsewhere. A so-called advocacy group for women legislators, Women in Government, reportedly is serving as one such conduit and has close ties to the Perry administration. Perry's former chief of staff is a top lobbyist for Merck. Television ads promoting Gardasil by showing young girls jumping rope are buttressing Merck's more direct efforts.

It would be one thing if all this activity and money were simply touting the availability of a new vaccine designed to help prevent a form of cervical cancer. It is quite another, however, when the goal of the massive and cash-laden effort is to secure government action mandating use of the product. Unlike the many other vaccinations Georgia requires for public school students — chicken pox, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, and others — cervical cancer is not transmitted via casual contact or through airborne viruses.

Is it the job of government to take a newly approved vaccine — one with very little long-term general usage under its belt — designed to prevent a disease that is transmitted not by casual or unavoidable contact, but rather by the most intimate and knowing of acts? Many physicians and parents think not, and have already begun organizing, especially in
Texas, to combat the headlong rush to mandate Gardasil vaccination for young schoolgirls.

In addition to the ethical and philosophical questions, there are very real concerns about the cost of administering such vaccinations. The inoculation regimen requires a series of three shots, which costs a total of $360, and must be repeated every five years. This is many times the cost of vaccinations for more common forms of maladies for which schoolchildren receive shots, and far beyond what insurers are willing to reimburse.

While there have been no reports of serious side effects as a result of the new Gardasil programs, some study participants reportedly experienced low-grade fever or flulike symptoms. The National Vaccine Information Center, a national nonprofit organization — essentially a vaccine watchdog — released information earlier this month that young girls were suffering worse symptoms such as "severe headaches, dizziness, temporary loss of vision and some girls have lost consciousness during what appear to be seizures."

Another concern is that there are more than 100 strains of HPV, of which only four will be affected by the vaccine — leaving potential for infection regardless of receiving the vaccine.

None of these concerns will likely deter the legion of Big Government types out there who — allied with the many do-gooders populating state legislatures from California to New York, and prodded by companies willing to spend millions to make billions — will allow nothing to stand in the way of "good government," whether the people want it or not.

• Former Congressman and U.S. Attorney Bob Barr practices law in
Atlanta.
Web site: www.bobbarr.org.

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3 comments:

Georgette said...

Very good article, EMV.

This whole issue is so sickening. To think that a big pharma company can have such power--it is just scary. Many physicians have said that they would not let their own daughters be vaccinated with this stuff--as it essentially makes them guinae pig testers on this new product with relatively little known about it.

Steve said...

This story is like a garbage dump; the more you dig into it, the more it stinks. Those who want more details may find more information here.

So much for "Pro-Life" Republicans.

Elisa said...

Thank you for putting this up--it should be a warning to all about giving a vaccine that hasn't been fully proven to be effective.
Recently on the evening news, a doctor from a Christian organization said it was a good idea for this vaccine to be given. He said something along the lines it would protect young girls from getting the virus through no fault of their own. He made it sound like you could get it from someone.