Bachmann Right on HPV Vaccine
In a controversy with heavy import for California, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann questioned government policy of giving the HPV vaccine to children, in particular the Gardasil vaccine made by Merck.
In California, as I wrote two weeks ago, the Legislature passed AB 499, which allows schools to inject children as young as 12 with the Gardasil vaccine without parental knowledge. I reported how Merck, the Big Pharma drug company that makes Gardasil, shoveled $39,500 in campaign contributions to state legislators who voted for AB 499. Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to decide if he will sign the bill.
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry mandated the Gardasil injection for schoolchildren in 2007, but was overturned by his own Legislature. Bachmann has brought up the vaccine as a way to criticize her presidential rival.
On Monday, the New York Times ran a highly biased story in favor of the vaccine and against parental rights. Headline: “Remark on HPV Vaccine Could Ripple for Years.” Story:
During a debate last week for Republican presidential candidates and in interviews after it, Representative Michele Bachmann called the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer “dangerous.” Medical experts fired back quickly. Her statements were false, they said, emphasizing that the vaccine is safe and can save lives. Mrs. Bachmann was soon on the defensive, acknowledging that she was not a doctor or a scientist.
But the harm to public health may have already been done. When politicians or celebrities raise alarms about vaccines, even false alarms, vaccination rates drop.
“These things always set you back about three years, which is exactly what we can’t afford,” said Dr. Rodney E. Willoughby, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a member of the committee oninfectious diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The academy favors use of the vaccine, as do other medical groups and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaccine, recommended by the medical groups for 11- and 12-year-olds, protects against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cancer. Use of the vaccine was disturbingly low even before the Bachmann flap, health officials say. That is partly because of the recent climate of fear about vaccines in general, and partly because some parents feel that giving the vaccine somehow implies that they are accepting or even condoning the idea that their young daughters will soon start having sex.
Allegations that vaccines could cause autism have frightened some parents away from giving them to children. But the question has been studied repeatedly, and there is no evidence for such a link; the research that first promoted the idea was subsequently proved fraudulent.
Indeed, a report published last month by the Institute of Medicine, which advises the government, found that the HPV vaccine was safe.
It did find “strong and generally suggestive” — though not conclusive — evidence that the vaccine could cause severe allergic reactions. But such reactions have been rare.
Merck’s Own Warning
However, as I reported in my story two weeks ago, Merck’s own Web site for Gardasil warns:
The side effects include pain, swelling, itching, bruising, and redness at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and fainting. Fainting can happen after getting GARDASIL. Sometimes people who faint can fall and hurt themselves. For this reason, your health care professional may ask you to sit or lie down for 15 minutes after you get GARDASIL. Some people who faint might shake or become stiff. This may require evaluation or treatment by your health care professional.
Only a doctor or health care professional can decide if GARDASIL is right for you or your child.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Moreover, the Times article slights the real controversy: Parental rights. It reported:
Even before Mrs. Bachmann’s comments, family doctors were negotiating with reluctant, confused parents. Dr. Schaffner said he knew a pediatrician who postponed the HPV shots until most patients turned 15 specifically to avoid parents’ objections at the younger age.
It’s the same old, biased story: Supposedly dumb parents resisting the wonderful social engineering imposed on them by governments praised by the Times.
But what if parents have a better way of avoiding such medical problems: teaching their children chastity. Of course, sometimes the kids will ignore parental or religious advice. But sexually transmitted diseases — as well as illegitimate children and abortion — were much more rare before the government-imposed “sex ed” craze of the late 1960s took over.
Of course, that brings up the problem of religion in the schools. The government, some “experts” and the drug companies think it’s perfectly OK to violate parents’ religious and other rights by imposing this injection on their kids. But if the parents want their own views taught, then they’re labeled “intolerant,” or “religious zealots.”
The solution is not to make public schools religious, or even to bring back school prayer. We’re long past that. Nowadays, American society is so diverse that you never could compose a prayer that would include all religions. Back when almost all Americans were Protestants, Catholics and Jews, reading the 23rd Psalm would suffice. But those days are long gone.
The ultimate solution is to move away from the coercive, government-school model to a private-school model. That way, parents could have their kids schooled in a religion of their own choosing, or in no religion. School diversity would spread across cities, giving parents many choices — with academics improving as well.
The real reason Gardasil is a flop is that people have become educated about this vaccine.
They’ve looked at the science and weighed the risks vs. the supposed benefits, and have made a choice not to get it for themselves or their children.
The word is out: despite what the CDC would have you believe, Gardasil’s safety record is in serious question. As of September 28, 2010, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) has more than 18,000 Gardasil-related adverse events listed in it, including at least 65 deaths.
As a vaccine used in the developed world, the science speaks for itself: Gardasil can’t – and never will – replace Pap smears, which are the reason that the incidence of cervical cancer is so low in the United States after decades of including pap smears in routine medical care for women.
Today, cervical cancer is not even in the top 10 cancers that kill American women every year.
As a vaccine for children, it doesn’t make sense to vaccinate to try to prevent an infection that is cleared from your body without any negative effects within two years in most healthy persons, and is not transmitted in a school setting like other airborne diseases that are easily transmitted in crowded conditions.
Gardasil is designed to prevent only two of at least 15 strains of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer in those who do not clear the virus from their body within two years and become chronically infected.
There is also some evidence that Gardasil-induced immunity may wane after about five years. Pre-licensure clinical trials did not follow young girls or women for decades to find out if the vaccine does, in fact, prevent cervical cancer.
What went wrong with Gardasil is that this may be a vaccine that set many more health care consumers on a course of self-education that helped them make an informed decision about whether or not to take it – and there are several good reasons why many are deciding NOT to take it.
Science vs. Politics
First, the science: Peer-reviewed journal articles widely available on the Internet show that Gardasil is not what it was made out to be in the “one-less” TV commercials that jumped into people’s living rooms a few years ago.
Consumers now know that:
* Gardasil is NOT a cancer vaccine. It is simply a vaccine for two strains of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) that in some instances can lead to cancer in some women (Gardasil’s other two HPV strains are for genital warts, which don’t cause cancer).
* Since there are at least 15 HPV strains that can lead to cancer, Gardasil-vaccinated girls can still get cervical cancer from other 13 HPV strains not contained in the vaccine.
* The vaccine doesn’t work if you’ve already been infected with the HPV strains in the vaccine.
But the politics of this information is that you won’t hear it or read it in the mainstream press. Instead, what you get is a repetition of the politically charged mantra that parents don’t want their young daughters or sons to get a vaccine associated with sexual behaviors, and complaints about the vaccine’s high cost.
The Truth about Gardasil and its Thousands of Injuries and Deaths
The federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) has been in place since 1986, but many experts believe that only 1 to 10 percent of all serious health problems that occur after vaccination, including hospitalizations, injuries and deaths, ever make it into the VAERS database.
Most doctors and other vaccine providers do not report vaccine-related adverse events to VAERS even though it is a requirement under federal law since 1986 with the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.
Gardasil was a “fast tracked” vaccine and with so little active reporting of Gardasil-related health problems to VAERS, this means that Gardasil should be on the red-alert list for agencies like the CDC, the FDA, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Yet these three federal health agencies and medical organizations urging doctors to give Gardasil to children and young women have joined Merck in insisting that Gardasil is safe, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
Gardasil victims and their parents have been posting their heart breaking stories on websites.
These tragic entries posted by Gardasil casualties is stark testify to the fact that something isn’t right with this vaccine – and what isn’t right is that the list of Gardasil victims just keeps growing.
The unfortunate fact is Merck only studied the vaccine in fewer than 1200 girls under age 16, and most of the serious health problems and deaths in the pre-licensure clinical trials were written off as a “coincidence.”
These are the facts you won’t read in the mainstream media. Whatever you think of Michele Bachmann on other policies, she is to be commended for bringing to light the dangers of Gardasil — and the sacred right of parents, not government, to raise their own children.
Sept. 21, 2011
May 23, 2013