Yesterday I made a post that has created some waves in which I offered a defense of Texas Governor Rick Perry's decision to require girls in Texas to be vaccinated against the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
A couple of things have happened today which have convinced me to revisit that post. One is a report in Politico on Perry's involvement in the decision to require the vaccinations and the second is Erick's reposting of his story on the subject from 2007.
Let me talk about Erick's essay first as a wide array of morons have been pointing it out to me on Twitter as a repudiation of my argument. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
I have a long association with this subject. I collaborated on and edited the essay by Dr. Joe DeSoto, a friend and fellow train commuter, which is linked to in that story.
This is not to bloviate about my importance but to point out there isn't a single point made in Erick's post that isn't applicable to my post. In fact, there is no defense made of the vaccine or its required usage in that post.
I thought at the time, and continue to think, that there were a lot of problems with Gardasil, as a drug, and the general strategy laid out for its use. I wouldn't support my child getting that vaccine, and in Texas under Governor Perry's order I wouldn't have to -- which was sort of one major point I was making in my post.
There is room for people to disagree on whether or not the decision was right. The fact is that Governor Perry was not acting as a loose cannon. The drug was approved for use by the FDA. The CDC was, and is, recommending that every girl age 9 through 26 receive the vaccine. The decision to make the vaccine mandatory was based on a desire to make the vaccine accessible via health insurance plans. What is beyond The Pale are the bad faith and dishonest arguments being made in regards to this decision. Unfortunately, people I have previously had some respect for have checked their integrity and intellect at the door on this subject.
The second part of the story are the Perry administration's emails on the Gardasil decision. They are available at Politico if you want to read the 700 pages worth.There isn't a hint of impropriety.
To me this has been the most troubling part of the story. The Gardasil decision in by no means a cut and dried decision and the fact that Perry, himself, has admitted error indicates that is the case. The insistence by a handful of people in pushing the story that the decsion was the result of a payoff is simply disgusting and reflects much more on the character, honor, and integrity of those making the allegation than it does on Perry or any of his staff. As fair warning, I intend to treat those making those allegations in a way indistinguishable from the way birthers and truthers are treated.
The other disturbing trend I've noticed is the number of anti-vaccine crazies that are appearing. In just the way any post on immigration party will bring out all manner of racists and xenophobes under the "secure borders" banner, this subject is attracting anti-vaccine crazies who generally masquerade under the "parental rights" banner. As a father of three young children, I'm all in favor of parental rights. I just don't think those rights extend to killing or crippling my kids or, worse than that, killing or crippling my neighbor's kids because I'm an imbecile. But that is a story for a different day.
Equally silly is the claim that an anti-HPV vaccine will lead to sexual promiscuity or the idea that pre-marital sex is okay. HPV is a very minor STD. If you think your kid is only deterred from having indiscriminate monkey sex by the fear of getting HPV then you have much greater problems that worrying about the use of Gardasil.
So let me reiterate the main points in bullet form for the reading impaired:
1. I agreed with Erick's post on Gardasil in 2007 and I agree with it today.
2. That agreement aside, the issue is not black and white.
3. Perry was not an outlier in making an anti-HPV vaccine mandatory.
4. The federal government recommended mass vaccination of women before Perry acted.
5. There is no evidence that Perry's decision was influenced by anything other than his personal belief that vaccination was the way to go.