Getting the Gardasil HPV vaccine debate wrong WRONG!
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. So I must be insane because I keep being surprised to see how the media reports on Gardasil.
And what surprised me this time was how wrong they got it when it wasn't even really the point.
Missed it by a mile
I haven't been paying too much attention to the presidential race. I mean, come on -- we don't cast our votes for more than a YEAR. So the "excitement" about Texas governor Rick Perry entering the race was only a tiny blip on my radar.
But then during the NPR "truth squad" report on the Republican debate, I realized I better start paying attention. After all, Rick Perry is THAT Texas governor -- the one who tried to make the HPV vaccine mandatory for every female sixth-grader in Texas.
As you may recall, Gov. Perry tried to sneak that one through as an executive order, but the Texas legislature shot it down.
Now, four years later, the question of how big a role the government should play in our lives is a hot political topic. So Gov. Perry's attempted intrusion into the lives of every young girl in Texas and her parents looms as a potential liability.
During the debate, candidate Ron Paul (who also happens to be an M.D.) jumped right on it. Dr. Paul said, "Just take the HPV, forcing 12-year-old girls to take an inoculation to prevent this sexually transmitted disease. This is not good medicine, I do not believe."
This is NOT good medicine -- you can be absolutely CERTAIN, Dr. Paul! (And, it turns out, it may be even worse politics.)
But then, Julie Rovner (an NPR health policy correspondent) piped up and...just completely blew it.
She noted that Dr. Paul is in "disagreement with the vast majority of the medical community." And she followed that statement with a list of mainstream medical organizations that recommend HPV vaccines for children and adults.
Julie! You missed that one by a MILE! In this case, Dr. Paul's point was not about the value of Gardasil, it was about "forcing" girls to take the vaccine.
All those organizations Julie listed "RECOMMEND" the vaccine. Not one of them has ever suggested that we follow Gov. Perry's attempt to make the vaccine mandatory.
Big difference! HUGE difference!
And then, making it seem like Dr. Paul knew little about good medicine, Julie went completely off the rails, stating: "It's a vaccine that prevents cancer..."
Wrong wrong wrong wrong WRONG!
That's exactly what Merck (the maker of Gardasil) WANTS everyone to believe! But even Merck can't make that claim because it's NOT a cervical cancer vaccine. It's a vaccine that prevents some but not all forms of HPV. And SOME of those HPV strains can cause cervical cancer.
Any woman who believes they've got cervical cancer prevention all taken care of with a Gardasil vaccine is very much mistaken. And Julie didn't even hint at the tens of thousands of adverse events and serious side effects linked to the drug! (Now you're starting to see why this whole Gardasil thing makes me so insane!)
So...did Julie Rovner blow it? Or did she want to divert attention away from the REAL topic brought up by Dr. Paul?
I'm certainly not accusing Julie of having an agenda. But she's a health policy expert with many years of experience. How could she not be aware of exactly what Gardasil does -- and how completely wrongheaded it would be to ever make it mandatory for anyone, especially pre-teen girls?
Of course, this is just the tip of the Gardasil controversy. If you're new to the question of using Gardasil to prevent HPV, you can get up to speed quickly with a video I made, which you can find here. It will tell you everything you need to know about Gardasil drawbacks and dangers so you can make the right decision for yourself and your family -- in case -- before Governor (or President) Perry gets to do it for you.
Feel free to forward it to Julie if you know her.
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About the author
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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