Four years ago, Gov. Rick Perry signed an order requiring Texas girls to be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus. Gov. Perry said he was trying to “curb cancer,” but many are questioning his real motivations. In any event, the Texas Legislature put a stop to the measure and they did the right thing. But it now appears that Gov. Perry, the Presidential candidate, hasn’t backed down from his stance that girls should be vaccinated against the virus. He now claims it wasn’t really a mandate, saying he included the right for parents to opt out of the vaccinations. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who also wants to be President, jumped her Texas opponent, saying: “To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong.”
Rep. Bachmann also said that Merck & Co., the company that makes the vaccine, employed Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff, as a lobbyist in Texas, and that the drug company had donated financially to Gov. Perry’s campaigns. These are two factors that will result in this issue not fading away. The recent exchanges mirror the criticism Gov. Perry took in 2007. It all began when Merck, which won approval for the first HPV vaccine a year earlier, was spending millions lobbying state legislators to require girls to be vaccinated with the new product, Gardisil. The company also was donating money to a national organization called Women in Government, which in Texas was led by state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, who chaired the House public health committee. She was also the mother-in-law of Perry’s chief of staff at the time, Deirdre Delisi – the same woman who now is one of Perry’s top Presidential campaign aides.
Gov. Perry signed an executive order on February 2, 2007, requiring the vaccination. It surprised even his allies who acknowledged that it was out of step with his so-called limited-government stance. It was reported that Texas parents didn’t like the idea of the government telling pre-adolescents they had to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease. A statewide requirement for the three-shot vaccine in Texas at a cost of $360 per vaccine, could have earned millions for Merck, at the time the only company with a HPV vaccine on the market. GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix was approved in 2009.
It’s my opinion that the serious adverse effects of Gardisil are much more important to the public than Gov. Perry’s ill-advised executive order. Over 23,000 adverse events have been reported, many of these serious injuries resulting in young girls developing chronic and debilitating conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Guillain Barŕe Syndrome. Our firm is representing a number of young girls who have experienced serious health problems, all of which we are convinced resulted from the Gardasil vaccine. Moreover, though Gardasil has been marketed for the prevention of cervical cancer, the vaccine will not prevent cervical cancer unless the effectiveness of the vaccine lasts for the lifetime of the girl. The vaccine has not been proven to last more than five years. Many scientists believe that Gardasil will neither prevent cervical cancer nor reduce the rate of cervical cancer in the U.S. Governor Perry’s comment that he erred on the side of “life” when attempting to mandate Gardasil vaccination appears to be a glib answer from a politician — not one based on scientific data. If you want more information on Gardasil, contact Leigh O’Dell, a lawyer in our Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Leigh.Odell@beasleyallen.com.
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