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02/02/2007 Archived Entry: "Texas becomes first state to require schoolgirls to be injected with Gardasil"

TEXAS HAS BECOME THE FIRST STATE TO REQUIRE schoolgirls to be vaccinated against sexually transmitted HPV, the virus responsible for genital warts and most cervical cancers. The vaccine may be valuable for young women soon to become sexually active (and for young men, too, although trials on males aren't yet complete), but there are still a lot of questions about this very expensive and relatively untried series of shots.

Couple of particularly disturbing things in this case: The order was imposed not by the legislature, but by a fiat from governor Rick Perry; and since HPV is absolutely not spread by casual contact, what possible business can any government have forcing it on every female child? Hasn't the vaccine requirement always been to protect against diseases that spread through casual contact? Or could it now be to protect drug companies and their cozy-with-the-gov lobbyists? Oh yes, I forgot; since government now pays such a large share of all medical bills, the state has an excuse interest in keepng everyone healthy -- even children who aren't at risk for the disease they're allegedly being protected against.

My current Hardyville series, "Monkey-Fu," will deal extensively with a fictional federal law requiring HPV vaccines nationwide. (It's not necessarily about Gardasil, the only product yet approved; a competing vaccine is well-along in the approval process.) Yes, in most cases parents can opt their children out of vaccines for either religious or health reasons. (In my columns I posit that the fedgov has made that harder to do.) But Gardasil and Merck's aggressive lobbying to force it on all our daughters sends us slding further down a very slippery slope.

Who is Merck's customer? The parents or young adult women who should have the freedom to choose Gardasil (and who, in most cases, have to pay for it)? Or is the real customer Merck's pals in the state and federal government? And are we and our children merely the government's property?

If this is such an excellent product (and perhaps it is; IMHO the jury simply isn't in yet) why does it have to be forced on anyone? It was just approved by the FDA last June; why the unholy haste to put it into every girl-child's veins?

Posted by Claire @ 04:36 PM CST

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