Finally, someone who will stand up to the wackos who would rather their daughters die of cancer than risk them having sex. Of course, having these shots are the only reason a girl would ever even think of having sex.

Perry orders anti-cancer vaccine for schoolgirls

Gov. Rick Perry signed an order today making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

By issuing an executive order, Perry apparently sidesteps opposition in the Legislature from conservatives and parents’ rights groups who fear such a requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way parents raise their children.

Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade will have to get Gardasil, Merck & Co.’s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Perry, a conservative Christian who opposes abortion and stem-cell research using embryonic cells, counts on the religious right for his political base. But he has said the cervical cancer vaccine is no different from the one that protects children against polio.

“The HPV vaccine provides with with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer,” Perry said in announcing the order.

  1. P. Lynn says:

    Is this genuine concern, or just the result of major lobbying by Merck, using Texas insiders? The issue with Gardisil is the expense and the fact that health insurances aren’t covering it adequately – causing it to be less available, which doesn’t make money for Merck. Sorry to be a cynic, but Texas = big state + mandatory vaccination = big $ for Merck.

  2. bs says:

    #1 I agree totally, look at Perry’s track record with the I69 project. He is bought and paid for 100% by the lobbyists.

  3. Angel H. Wong says:

    When their little girl is wasting away with cervical cancer I bet they will regret not giving her a vaccine.

  4. Joey says:

    #1 – Whether he’s genuine or not, the vaccine is a no-brainer and should be given to all children before they become sexually active.

  5. msi says:

    Uncle Dave,

    Your headline is misleading. Governor Perry’s action requires the administration of the vaccine (according to for entry into public schools. The use of the vaccine by the public has already been “OK’ed” by the FDA. Requiring the use of this vaccine that targets a pathogen that typically and usually is transmitted by sexual contact is quite different than requiring vaccines that prevent disease (e.g. whooping cough) that can be spread in social situations without direct physical contact or by casual physical contact.

    Please get your facts right in your posting.

  6. Uncle Dave says:

    #7: My facts are straight. He OK’d the plan to require the use of the vaccine. He could have vetoed the plan.

    What does the second part of your comment differentiating how one gets the disease have to do with using ‘OK’ in my headline?

  7. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    Texas is a major STD hotspot, and making this mandatory is fine.

    I suspect, however, Texas being run for the sole benefit of moneyed special interests (mainly oil & gas, insurance, homebuilders and REITs) as it is (and Perry a tenured faculty member at the Bob Ney School of Lucrative Governance), that the taxpayers are probably getting fucked on this deal, pricewise.

    That’s just the way it’s done here. Anytime it looks like these clowns are actually doing something for the benefit of the people, when you look real close you inevitably find their pockets, or their friends’, being filled with taxpayer $.

    Don’t worry, Gov. Rick “Can’t We Just Get On Down The Road?” Perry didn’t grow a conscience overnight.

  8. stickdog says:

    The Facts About GARDASIL

    1) GARDASIL is a vaccine for 4 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), two strains that are strongly associated (and probably cause) genital warts and two strains that are typically associated (and may cause) cervical cancer. About 90% of people with genital warts show exposure to one of the two HPV strains strongly suspected to cause genital warts. About 70% of women with cervical cancer show exposure to one of the other two HPV strains that the vaccine is designed to confer resistance to.

    2) HPV is a sexually communicable (not an infectious) virus. When you consider all strains of HPV, over 70% of sexually active males and females have been exposed. A condom helps a lot (70% less likely to get it), but has not been shown to stop transmission in all cases (only one study of 82 college girls who self-reported about condom use has been done). For the vast majority of women, exposure to HPV strains (even the four “bad ones” protected for in GARDASIL) results in no known health complications of any kind.

    3) Cervical cancer is not a deadly nor prevalent cancer in the US or any other first world nation. Cervical cancer rates have declined sharply over the last 30 years and are still declining. Cervical cancer accounts for less than 1% of of all female cancer cases and deaths in the US. Cervical cancer is typically very treatable and the prognosis for a healthy outcome is good. The typical exceptions to this case are old women, women who are already unhealthy and women who don’t get pap smears until after the cancer has existed for many years.

    4) Merck’s clinical studies for GARDASIL were problematic in several ways. Only 20,541 women were used (half got the “placebo”) and their health was followed up for only four years at maximum and typically 1-3 years only. More critically, only 1,121 of these subjects were less than 16. The younger subjects were only followed up for a maximum of 18 months. Furthermore, less than 10% of these subjects received true placebo injections. The others were given injections containing an aluminum salt adjuvant (vaccine enhancer) that is also a component of GARDASIL. This is scientifically preposterous, especially when you consider that similar alum adjuvants are suspected to be responsible for Gulf War disease and other possible vaccination related complications.

    5) Both the “placebo” groups and the vaccination groups reported a myriad of short term and medium term health problems over the course of their evaluations. The majority of both groups reported minor health complications near the injection site or near the time of the injection. Among the vaccination group, reports of such complications were slightly higher. The small sample that was given a real placebo reported far fewer complications — as in less than half. Furthermore, most if not all longer term complications were written off as not being potentially vaccine caused for all subjects.

    6) Because the pool of test subjects was so small and the rates of cervical cancer are so low, NOT A SINGLE CONTROL SUBJECT ACTUALLY CONTRACTED CERVICAL CANCER IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM — MUCH LESS DIED OF IT. Instead, this vaccine’s supposed efficacy is based on the fact that the vaccinated group ended up with far fewer cases (5 vs. about 200) of genital warts and “precancerous lesions” (dysplasias) than the alum injected “control” subjects.

    7) Because the tests included just four years of follow up at most, the long term effects and efficacy of this vaccine are completely unknown for anyone. All but the shortest term effects are completely unknown for little girls. Considering the tiny size of youngster study, the data about the shortest terms side effects for girls are also dubious.

    8) GARDASIL is the most expensive vaccine ever marketed. It requires three vaccinations at $120 a pop for a total price tag of $360. It is expected to be Merck’s biggest cash cow of this and the next decade.

    These are simply the facts of the situation as presented by Merck and the FDA.

  9. Mr. Fusion says:

    #11, Would you care to post your source(s) ? All I have read is that the FDA suggests this vaccine should be used by all women before they become “infected” with HPV.

    Second, you made a big deal with : 2) HPV is a sexually communicable (not an infectious) virus.
    Not everyone that contacts ANY virus will succumb, but enough people do in order to advise immunization for any viruses where a vaccine exists. Second, any disease can not infect until it has been communicated to another and too many people don’t show any or only minimal signs.

    Cervical cancer is not a deadly nor prevalent cancer in the US

    Unless you happen to be diagnosed with cervical cancer. 10,000 Americans have invasive surgery each year and 4,000 of those will die. That is 4 X the mortality rate for American Servicemen in Iraq and surely you know how that has upset Americans. BTW, early treatment, while best for a good outcome, requires a good health plan. That is something most Americans don’t have.

  10. MikeN says:

    #9) Perry didn’t OK the drug. It was already approved, and he doesn’t have the authority to ban it. I doubt it’s even the state of Texas that would be providing the vaccines. A more accurate headline is ‘Perry denies education to girls without cervical cancer vaccine’.

  11. jccalhoun says:

    Whether or not the vaccine is effective or needed is a valid issue. However, the loudest critics of using the vaccine are not criticizing it on that issue, but on moral grounds. “If we give it to them they will have teh sex!!!!”
    Because fear is really an effective deterrent for teenagers…

  12. Mr. Fusion says:

    #13, Let’s start with your alum comment. The article you refer to in the Straight is not only not published, it isn’t even peer reviewed yet.

    Then your references to the Humana Press about aluminum hydroxide as a suspect in neurological disorders. I find it funny that there was no increased incidence in the studies done by Merck, which you should have seen. Quoting a statistical study that looked after the fact at epidemiology results is dubious when actual, in process studies didn’t show any relationship.

    Your other “references” show little objectivity. You make statements but don’t link to them.

    The FDA recommends the use of this vaccine. A four year study is suitable and normal. Of course the long term effects won’t be known for some time yet. If the body tolerates this vaccine for the first four years, it isn’t a stretch to suggest the body will tolerate the effects of the vaccine for a lifetime.

    For your New York Times reference, let’s take a quick look at this OPINION.
    Besides, we already know how to prevent cervical cancer in this country, and we’ve done a darn good job of it. In the war against cancer, the battle against cervical cancer has been a success story.

    Wrong, wrong wrong. We can’t prevent cervical cancer at this point in time. We can catch it in the early stages. We can treat it if it is found. Women may be sterilized by the treatment. But we can’t prevent it. Then again, treatment must be obtained and health care is notoriously bad for poor people in this country.

    But girls can also protect themselves from the human papillomavirus by using condoms; a recent study found that condoms cut infections by more than half. Condoms also protect against a far more insidious sexually transmitted virus, H.I.V.

    More then half ? Actually, it is closer to 70% whereas the vaccine is 99%+ effective. Condoms are much more effective against HIV then they are the more robust HPV. Whereas HPV may live on the hands much longer and be transfered to the condom or pubic area, HIV is a much more fragile virus and less easily transfered.

    Check out your own references, that is where I got all this information.

  13. James Hill says:

    Hopefully a cure for HPV can be created, to be given to both men and women, than can stop the spread of this disease.

  14. stickdog says:

    #18, do you work for or own stock in Merck?

    The article I refer to from IS both peer reviewed and published in the Humana Press link right below it. If you had actually read the both links objectively instead of simply rushing to debunk them, you might have noticed that the scientists quoted in the article are also the authors of the (later published) peer reviewed journal article.

    Consider now that over 90% of Merck’s PLACEBO CONTROL GROUPS were injected with alum. Tell me, if both your control groups and your test groups are injected with alum — how are you supposed to assess side effects of alum? Are you still surprised about the results now that you realize how the game was rigged by Merck?

    Furthermore, even if Merck had used an actual inert placebo instead of a shot of alum for the control groups, the follow ups were for four years MAXIMUM and typically two years or less. And the follow ups did not consist of looking for signs of neural death in ANY of the subjects. Several of the tests subjects died and several more contracted severe and rare diseases. But since this happened for both the alum injected “control” groups and the vaccine groups, these adverse health effects were wriiten off. For risk comparison, nobody in the entire test group — control or otherwise – ever contracted cervical cancer. So what kind of a risk vs. benefit relationship is that?

    If you have any other problems with anything I have written, why don’t you challenge something I wrote specifically? I’m waiting.

    The FDA approved GARDASIL. The FDA made no recommendation about it. The FDA approves a lot of things. Should we make it mandatory to inject our young girls with everything the FDA approves?

    A four year study is suitable and normal for vaccination APPROVAL, not vaccination COMPULSION on a population (young girls) on which the vaccine was barely tested and only followed up for a maximum of 18 months. Full four year follow ups were done only on a select subset of ADULT women. The health problems of these few women were compared to a “placebo control” group that had been injected with a substance (alum) shown to cause neural death in mice. If the “placebo” instances were not statistically significant from the vaccine instances, all of these health problems (including 7 unexplained deaths) were written off.

    The NT Times reference was not used to back up any of my facts other than the number of children under 16 tested by Merck. So stop trying to cloud the FACTS with your tangential differences with the columnist.

    There is only one study about condoms’ prevention of HPV and it only included about 80 college girls whose condom use was self-reported. What this study showed was that women who self-reported always using a condom were 70% less likely to contract ANY HPV strain than women who self-reported almost never using one. More testing much be done before any hard conclusions can be made about exactly how likely HPV is to spread with confirmed perfect condom use. Some women are likely to have self-reported always using a condom when they actually did not.

    What Merck’s studies showed was that GARDASIL was about 98% (not 99%+) effective in preventing HPV complications ASSOCIATED WITH THE FOUR STRAINS IT PROTECTS AGAINST ONLY — and only for the follow up period of the subjects, which averaged about 2 years.

    Check out my references, that is where I got all this information.

  15. Mr. Fusion says:

    You wrote:
    The NT Times reference was not used to back up any of my facts …

    But contrast that with your earlier post, :
    My source is Merck and the FDA:
    …(FDA article)
    Also see:

    (The NY Times column)

    You wrote,
    What Merck’s studies showed was that GARDASIL was about 98% (not 99%+) effective in preventing HPV complications …

    Where as your source said,
    Overall, 99.8%, 99.8%, 99.8%, and 99.5% of girls and women who received GARDASIL became anti-HPV 6, anti-HPV 11, anti-HPV 16, and anti-HPV 18 seropositive, respectively, by 1 month Postdose 3 across all age groups tested.
    (Your FDA source)

    You wrote,:
    And the follow ups did not consist of looking for signs of neural death in ANY of the subjects. Several of the tests subjects died and several more contracted severe and rare diseases

    From the FDA article
    Across the clinical studies, 17 deaths were reported in 21,464 male and female subjects. The events reported were consistent with events expected in healthy adolescent and adult populations. …

    7 automobiles
    3 suicide / OD
    2 pulmonary embolus/deep vein
    2 sepsis
    1 pancreatic cancer
    1 arrythmia
    1 asphixia
    These cases are that are would be expected in any population of this size over this time span. There are no “rare” instances as you infer.

    As for Table #7, listed are All-cause Common Systemic Adverse Experiences between the vaccine and a saline solution. The results are statistically insignificant.
    (Your FDA source)

    You wroye,:
    The article I refer to from IS both peer reviewed and published

    I noticed the emphasis on IS, but in the article,

    New, so-far-unpublished research led by Vancouver neuroscientist Chris Shaw
    Shaw’s paper is currently undergoing a peer review.

    I don’t own any Merck stock. Or any drug company for that matter. I am in favor of vaccinations for the simple reason that, well let’s quote your article again.

    Dr. Ronald Gold, the former head of the infectious-disease division at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, told the conference that “we will never be without an anti-vaccine movement,” but “in reality, there is no scientific evidence for these myths.” (my emphasis)

  16. stickdog says:

    There are two sides to every discussion, of course. This vaccine does appear to confer some benefits. If I were a sexually active woman who disliked condoms and liked to have multiple sex partners who had not yet been exposed to any of the four strains of HPV that this vaccine protects against, I just might sign myself up.

    But that’s not the same thing as making this vaccine MANDATORY for a preteen population it was not rigorously tested on a scant 8 months after its initial rush job FDA approval.

    Aside from all the known risks of all vaccines, the unknown risks of this three shot regimen for preteens along with their other vaccine load, and the unknown long term risks of this vaccine for all populations, we have to look at cost vs. benefit.

    7861 of the placebo subjects contracted 83 cases of HPV 6-, 11-, 16-, 18-related dysplasias during the testing period compared compared to 4 cases among the 7858 subjects who were given GARDASIL. That’s after counting out every subject with any prior exposure to these strains. This includes 42 of the less serious HPV 6-, 11- related low grade dysplasias.

    Merck has published no data for how many non-HPV 6-, 11-, 16-, 18-related dysplasias were contracted by these subjects over these periods, but some practitioners have commented that they expect the vaccine to protect against 40%-50% of all dysplasias.

    In terms of every possible kind of dysplasia for which this vaccine confers protection, Merck’s own clinical evidence suggests that this vaccine saved about 10 patients out of each 1000 injected from the painful process of having these dysplasias treated (over the entire course of follow ups which ranged from 18 months to 4 years). Note that the populations for these studies were not preteens but women at the height of their sexual activity. Further note that since the vaccine uses virus-like particles (a new vaccine technology) and is only about five years in testing now, there is no guarantee that it has any long term efficacy.

    Of course, the pre-teen population is so less sexually active (and when active, so much less likely to be active with a previously contaminated partner) that I think it would be conservative to estimate that preteens are 5 times less likely to contract HPV dysplasias than the 16 to 26 year olds who were tested by Merck. So instead of saving 10 women per 1000 from painful treatments for HPV dysplasias, this vaccine would save perhaps 2 girls per 1000 from these procedures among the much younger population that Merck and Merck’s politicians are targeting for mandatory vaccination.

    Do we really want to pursue a public policy that costs $360,000 to vaccinate every 1000 girls while exposing each and every one of these thousand girls to the known adverse short term and largely unknown long terms side effects of three injections of a new vaccine just to save two of the more sexually active of these kids from having to have their dysplasias treated conventionally? What kind of a risk and cost vs. benefit trade off is that?

    Note that nowhere are we discussing actual incidences of cervical cancer because there is no clinical evidence whatsoever that GARDASIL reduces cervical cancer rates, and even if we place our hope in the the fact that it might, cervical cancer is simply not a meaningful health risk for any girl in the target vaccination population who is getting an annual pap smear.

  17. athomas says:

    Just to clarify-the current Pap program in the U.S. DOES prevent cancer by catching precancerous changes. The death rate for cervical cancer in the U.S. has fallen from 50k to 4k annually since its introduction 50 years ago. The Pap is considered one of the most successful medical tests ever implemented. It is important for women to continue with Pap smear screening even if they are vaccinated against HPV, because the annual visit is the only time many women are seen by a physician and screened for several other diseases, including other gyn malignancies, breast cancer, high blood pressure, etc.. The HPV vaccine is important, but should be a part of a larger womens’ health screening program, not replace the current standard at this time. My two cents’ worth.

  18. stickdog says:

    While it is a widely accepted medical theory that HPV “causes” cervical cancer, it’s not close to being a fact. Although the vast majority do, many cases of cervical cancer don’t show any association with HPV. It’s a very good guess that certain strains of HPV are necessary co-factors for certain highly prevalent types of cervical cancer to emerge. The two really bad strains protected for in GARDASIL go hand in hand with 70% of CURRENT cervical cancer cases. My point is that there are 36 nasty strains of HPV screened for currently, and the human body is an ecology. We have no idea how protection against the two strains of HPV that are CURRENTLY most prevalently associated with cervical cancer (typically decades after initial exposure) will affect overall cervical cancer rates far in the future.

    What we instead DO know is that current practices of annual pap smears and screening for ALL bad strains of HPV continue to reduce rates of cervical cancer among the US population annually. If all US women received a pap smear every year and were then promptly treated for any abnormal growths encountered, both the cervical cancer contraction and mortality rates would plummet even further to the point where HPV-associated cervical cancer would kill no more than a handful of US women a year. Yes, that is a guess as well, but it’s a far better guess than assuming that conferring protection against four of the myriad of current and future strains of harmful HPV will somehow do the trick.

    Certainly GARDASIL’s benefit data against the four strains of HPV it targets are compelling. HOWEVER, the benefit data against ALL forms of HPV are not published by Merck and estimated by OP-GYNs to be a mixed bag. The benefit data against cervical cancer itself are nonexistent. The long term risk data for any population are nonexistent. There are almost no risk data at all for pre-teens. The fact that the “placebo control” was a shot of alum that was recently shown to cause neural death in mice is particularly problematic in terms of interpreting the small amount of risk data that were gathered.

    Studies of the long-term benefits of a new drug or vaccine take a long time. It would take several decades to prove conclusively that this vaccine prevents cervical cancer deaths. So why the rush to make these three injections COMPULSORY for preteens?

    Perhaps this would be excusable if GARDASIL conferred protection against HPV generally, but it does not. We have absolutely no way of even guessing how conferring protection against four strains of HPV will affect cervical cancer rates decades down the line. If you do, please quantify the expected benefits in terms of the expected reduction of cervical cancer contraction and mortality rates for the population of US women who get annual pap smears. The only thing you can say about these numbers are that they are unknown and tiny.

    I am not trying to stop anyone from signing up themselves or their kids for this. If you want to pay $360 to make your little girl one of Merck’s test subjects, please do. As I said, the vaccine shows promise. It may be a life saver for a small segment of the population (especially those too poor or uninformed to get annual pap smears), and it offers protection against most genital warts and a good percentage of HPV dysplasias. The procedures to remove these warts and dysplasias are very painful, so these benefits are compelling. However, the risk and cost vs. benefit profile of this vaccine is not such that it is good public policy to mandate it — especially not for a pre-teen population on which it has never been sufficiently tested — even with an “opt out” clause. If Merck wants to make sure that women and parents who want it and can’t afford it can get it, they should offer it to low income individuals and families on a sliding scale rather than lobbying state and federal governments to pony up the billions.

  19. Mr. Fusion says:

    Just to clarify-the current Pap program in the U.S. DOES prevent cancer by catching precancerous changes

    False. PAP smears will only catch the cancerous growth AFTER it has occurred. That is NOT prevention, it is reactive.

    Once again, you spout what you don’t know. Be it ignorance or religious compulsion, I won’t even try to guess.

    While it is a widely accepted medical theory that HPV “causes” cervical cancer, it’s not close to being a fact.

    And tobacco doesn’t cause cancer either.

    The benefit data against cervical cancer itself are nonexistent.
    OH??? But just before this you wrote,
    The two really bad strains protected for in GARDASIL go hand in hand with 70% of CURRENT cervical cancer cases.

    I am not trying to stop anyone from signing up themselves or their kids for this.

    Then explain to your daughter in 25 years from now why she has cervical cancer and you could have done something AND YOU DIDN’T.

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