Via Dana at CSPT, comes news that Merck has decided to stop being quite so brazen in its attempt to grab government money for STD vaccines for 11-year-old girls.
Merck & Co., bowing to pressure from parents and medical groups, is immediately suspending its lobbying campaign to persuade state legislatures to mandate that adolescent girls get the company’s new vaccine against cervical cancer as a requirement for school attendance.
The drug maker, which announced the change Tuesday, had been criticized for quietly funding the campaign, via a third party, to require 11- and 12-year-old girls get the three-dose vaccine in order to attend school.
I'm glad to see the brakes being put on this, although it doesn't address the problem I face here in Texas, since Governor Rick Perry unilaterally decided this wasn't a parent's decision to "opt in." Of course, questions about Perry's ties to Merck came up, but that hasn't stopped Governor Goodhair.
Last month, the AP reported that Merck was channeling money for its state-mandate campaign through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators across the country.
Conservative groups opposed the campaign, saying it would encourage premarital sex, and parents’ rights groups said it interfered with their control over their children.
Even two of the prominent medical groups that supported broad use of the vaccine, the American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Academy of Family Practitioners, questioned Merck’s timing, Haupt said Tuesday.
“They, along with some other folks in the public health community, believe there needs to be more time,” he said, to ensure government funding for the vaccine for uninsured girls is in place and that families and government officials have enough information about it.
Legislatures in roughly 20 states have introduced measures that would mandate girls have the vaccine to attend school, but none has passed so far. However, Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Feb. 2 issued an executive order requiring Texas girls entering the sixth grade as of 2008 get the vaccinations, triggering protests from lawmakers in that state.
Perry defended his order Tuesday, a day after lawmakers in Austin held a lengthy hearing on the issue but failed to act on a bill to override the order.
The concerns of parents aren't just knee-jerk reactions of fundamentalists to government mandates like some people would have you believe. The vaccine was tested for less than five years, and only on a small number of younger teenagers. In short, they don't really know what the long-term effects of this vaccine could be on your daughter.
As of now, the best way to combat HPV is:
(a) Avoid having sex before marriage (that means both of you)
(b) Stay monogomous (that means both of you) during marriage, and
(c) Have yearly Pap smears. And if you just can't do (a) or (b), then
(d) Use barrier method protection.
Pap smears are considerably cheaper than the HPV vaccine, which protects against about 70% of the viruses that can cause cervical cancer. Because of the cost, it's a better method for trying to protect women from cervical cancer, rather than allowing government to mandate a vaccine for a non-communicable disease.