A mandatory HPV vaccine for very young girls turns out to be a very hard sell

Opting in for an opt-out

No. No. No.

And add 997 more to make it one thousand times NO!

After the Florida Republican debate, pundit Howard Kurtz offered this “insight” about the growing controversy over Rick Perry’s attempt to make Gardasil (the HPV vaccine) mandatory in Texas.

Kurtz: “The details are complicated, and he was, after all, trying to combat cancer.”


You don’t get a free pass to get away with blatant political cronyism just because you’re pushing a so-called “cancer vaccine” that can’t even guarantee protection from HPV, much less cervical cancer.

What a coincidence!

Like so many career politicians, Rick Perry wants it both ways.

He has the colossal gall to say he’s one of those guys who is against big government intrusion into our personal lives. Then he attempts to make Gardasil mandatory for every sixth-grade girl in Texas.

Talk about intrusion! Does government intrusion get any worse than forcing a needle (three, actually) into young girls’ arms?

But here’s what IS worse: Perry didn’t take this issue to the citizens of Texas. He didn’t even try to win over state legislators. He sidestepped ALL of that and used an executive order to simply make it happen. No discussion. No debate. Done.

Fortunately, responding to pressure from incensed parents, the Texas legislature was able to shoot it down.

But now that Gov. Perry has stepped onto the national stage, he’s trying to make his blunder seem like an honest mistake by a man who only wanted to save lives.

Sorry, Governor. We’re not buying it.

Four years ago I told you about the political machinery at work behind Perry’s order for mandatory Gardasil shots.

As reported in the Associated Press, Perry’s former chief of staff is a Texas lobbyist for Merck (the maker of Gardasil). And while you may have heard about the $5,000 that Merck donated to Perry’s political action committee, you probably DIDN’T hear about the $29,500 that Merck has donated to the committee since 2000.

The AP also reported that in 2007, on the very same day Merck made a donation to the Governor’s campaign, Perry’s chief of staff had a meeting with aides regarding the HPV vaccine issue.

Perry dismisses this as coincidence and dismisses his call for mandatory Gardasil vaccines as a mistake. But Kirsten Powers — a Daily Beast columnist — recently did an excellent job of stripping away Perry’s Grade A hogwash.

Kirsten notes that Perry — “kicking and screaming” — fought Texas legislators in their decision to overturn his executive order. And just last year he claimed that the vaccine would NOT have been mandatory because parents would have been able to opt out.

Sounds simple enough. But as PolitiFact.com notes, it’s not so simple.

Texas parents can’t just check an “opt-out” box in school paperwork. They have to have exemption affidavits notarized and submitted by a deadline, once every two years.

In addition, many private schools in Texas don’t allow students to opt out of mandatory vaccines. In that case, thousands of parents would have had to decide between allowing the vaccine or placing their daughters in different schools.

But even if every single thing Perry says is true, the whole idea of having an opt out is still horrendous. In a case like this where a drug helps prevent the spread of a virus that can ONLY be picked up by sexual contact, parents might be given the opportunity to opt in, but should never be put in the position of having to save their daughters from this vaccine — with a notarized affidavit..

As Governor Perry needs to learn, when you use a bully pulpit to force the use of a drug like this, it’s very hard to opt out of the political consequences.

“Romney Puts Perry on Defensive” Howard Kurtz, The Daily
Beast, 9/12/11, thedailybeast.com

“Perry’s Vaccine Two-Step” Kirsten Powers, The Daily Beast, 9/13/11, thedailybeast.com

“Perry says the HPV vaccine he mandated would have been optional” PolitiFact, 2/6/10, politifact.com

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