Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Perry's Bachmann/HPV-Gardisil Problem

If you watched the debate on CNN last night, you would have heard Bachmann incessantly go after Gov. Perry for his executive order mandating that young teenage girls be vaccinated against the Human papilloma virus (HPV) with a product called Gardisil. Bachmann's attack seemed to be falsely based on the fact that Gardisil is supposedly a dangerous vaccine and that, somehow, Perry had put young girls lives at risk because the CEO of the manufacturer of the drug, Merck, was a Perry donor.

But, some this argument is littered with falsehoods. First, Gardisil has been administered to over 40 million women worldwide. Of those 40 million, there have been 20 deaths and, none of those deaths have yet been proven to be a result of taking the vaccine. In the U.S. alone, there are nearly 4000 deaths a year that are a direct result of contracting the human papilloma virus. The deaths worldwide are in excess of 230,000 each year and Gardisil has proven it could cut those deaths by two-thirds. Further, and completely contrary to Bachmann's claim, Gardisil has never been associated with mental retardation. In general, the side effects from taking the vaccine have been found to be minimal and the incidence of any serious illness following the administration of the drug has not been statistically different when compared with those not receiving the drug. Clearly, the benefits of Gardisil are enormous in light of the number of HPV deaths. That's why our own Food And Drug Administration has never stopped recommending that every girl, before the beginning of any sexual activity, be vaccinated with Gardisil.

The real Perry/Gardisil problem was that Perry used an executive order to mandate the vaccination of all young, teenage girls in Texas instead of going through the legislature. Ultimately, and for that very reason, the Perry-order was overturned by the Texas Supreme Court. And, last night, Perry admitted he was wrong. Also, the Perry-order wasn't as mandatory as was implied by Bachmann last night, That order had allowed an easy "opt out" for any parent not wanting their daughter vaccinated. To me, Bachmann is desperately trying to regain her second place standing that was lost when Perry entered the race; but, in reality, her slippage in the polls has more to do with her own missteps. I think reasonable voters will again see Bachmann in a negative light in her Gardisil attack on Perry. Once again, she is looking uniformed and subject to considerable gaffes.

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