On Friday 2/2/2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry issued an executive order requiring that girls entering the sixth grade be vaccinated for HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer. By mandating this via Executive Order, it bypassed the legislative process, and thus bypassed the will of the people, whatever their decision may have been had their elected representatives been allowed to vote on it.
The vaccine that will be administered starting in 2008 will be Merck & Co. Inc's 'Gardasil.' Governor Perry received $6000 from Merck's political campaign action committee during his re-election campaign. One of Merck's three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff.
Merck also funds an advocacy group called Women In Government. This group is comprised of female state legislators around the country. Governor Perry's current chief-of-staff's mother-in-law, Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women In Government.
It has been reported that a top official from Merck's vaccine division sits on the Women in Government's business council. Many of the bills around the country have been introduced by members of Women In Government.
Merck spokeswoman Janet Skidmore would not say how much the company is spending on lobbyists or how much it has donated to Women in Government. Susan Crosby, the group's president, also declined to specify how much the drug company gave.
It already looks like the Women In Goverment group is trying to distance itself from being affiliated with Merck. Google's cached Women In Government Business Council Page as of Feb. 2nd listed "Merck Vaccine Division" under the heading "Business Council Members Represent." If you check the Women In Government Business Council Page now, that line has been removed.
I found the name of the Merck official that sits on the Women In Government's Business Council. Hit up the Internet Archive's cache. Her name is Deborah Alfano. She is an advocate of universal vaccination. That is another way of saying she does not believe you should have a choice when it comes to vaccinations.
From the Maternity Care Coalition's website, summarizing Ms. Alfano's Speech "The Value of Vaccines:"
"Barriers to universal coverage in the United States remain. While most states have legislation requiring vaccinations, half of the country allows for philosophical exemptions from vaccinations, making universal vacination virtually impossible in those states. By creating and environment that values and supports vaccines, Ms. Alfano hopes that we can immunize everyone against vaccine-preventable diseases and pave the way for new vaccines against diseases such as HPV, rotavirus, shingles, and HIV." (Emphasis added by me.)
Now, you tell me, is there any possibility of a conflict of interest here?
I ran the numbers for the State of Texas in 2006 based on public data:
Estimated Female Texas Population for 2006: 11734914
Texas Cancer Registry Cervical Cancer Estimates for 2006: 1169 new cases, 391 deaths.
0.0009% of the female population had new cases of cervical cancer in 2006.
0.0003% of the female population died from cervical cancer in 2006.
These numbers reflect all females in Texas and are not broken down by age group. I don't consider them statistically significant. If you broke it down to the age group of 11 to 21, the ages that are targeted by this new Executive Order, I believe you will approach zero. The incidence rates of cervical cancer have been trending downward in Texas year over year for last decade. This hardly constitutes a public health crisis that requires mandatory vaccination.
Thankfully Texas provides a reason of conscience affidavit to allow parents to opt out of this program. However, according to Ms. Lafano's statement, half of the states in the US do not offer one. In fact, Texas did not have a reason of conscience affidavit until it was pressured to provide one in 2003 by a parent's rights advocacy group.
I just have to take a step back, look at all of this, and wonder: What is happening in our country? How did we let it get to a point where we allow conflicts of interest to run so rampant that a corporation successfully lobbies to get an unnecessary drug injected into school children to make a buck? Merck stands to make $2 to $4 billion a year if this becomes mandatory in all states. They say you can start as early as age 9. According to the Kinsey Institute the average age of first intercourse for females is 17.4 years. Even if you have no problem with what's happening in Texas, isn't sixth grade a little early to start with this?
Texas Executive Order now requires 11 year olds to receive STD vaccines. But wait, there's more!