Saturday, February 03, 2007

The HPV vaccine law in Texas.

*begin rant*

I'm really stunned ~ Gov. Rick Perry has a reputation as a conservative, anti-abortion, "family values" Republican. (In case you haven't heard ~ Perry singlehandedly signed a bill that makes it LAW that all girls in Texas, at age 11/entering 6th grade, must be vaccinated for HPV.)

What is he thinking?
First, he bypassed the Legislature ~ that's just plain wrong. Yes, he's elected at large, but he's only one man ~ and all this is a brand new vaccine in the US! Why does *he* get to decide for all of our daughters? How about making it voluntary? Maybe even up that to "recommended"? Let some adults take it, see what happens...maybe in a few years, we'll have enough information to know how it works in the long-term.

Second, that he received campaign funds ($6000, according to the local news last night) from Merck, the company that manufactures the vaccine. That just taints his decision for me, even if it *may* be in the best interest of the young women in the long run. IMHO, it should be illegal for an elected official to take money from businesses and then make laws that favor those businesses. Call me crazy...but I thought WE elected the officials, and that they should listen to what WE want ~ not what is best for Merck, or any other business. He sure didn't ask me what I thought about this new law ~ neither did he ask my elected representative.

Third, the AGE of the girls just stuns me. 6th grade? 11 year old children? Many girls that age won't have even entered puberty yet! I think this is what gets me most of all. It affects my child this year. She turns 11 in November. According to the new law, I will have to have her vaccinated for HPV this fall. She has multiple special needs, has no idea what vaccines are for, will never even be able to ask me a question about sex or STDs, and won't ever be able to understand an explanation, even were I to give it to her ~ yet if I, as her parent, choose not to vaccinate her, I'm sure I will have to go through a bunch of red tape to prove why she shouldn't have to have it ~ and even then, I may not be able to have it deferred, if it's as difficult as the other vaccines. I won't lie on a form that it's against my religion to vaccinate, so I will likely have to go through with it regardless of how I feel. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

(As an aside: I actually pitched a little fit last week at pre-op, when the staff at the children's hospital wanted to draw blood to perform a pregnancy test on my 10 year old. Mainly because she's a tough "stick" and it seemed silly to me to go through with it ~ but I was more than a little annoyed that a child that age is automatically assumed to be sexually active ~ or, I suppose, a victim of sexual abuse. What has our world come to? When I was 10, I barely knew the facts of life ~ I certainly didn't need a pregnancy test or a vaccine for HPV.) (Oh my gosh, that makes me sound old ~ lol ~ I'm not, I was just raised in a very protected environment. My parents actually monitored/restricted my television habits, took me to church three times per week, and *gasp* talked to me when I had questions about things!)

What's next? Mandatory GYN exams within 30 days of your first period? At least that would make *some* sense ~ the young woman could speak with an expert about STDs and birth control at a time when she actually may need it!

I just heard about the link between HPV and cancer a few months ago, and only heard about the vaccine a few weeks ago! My annual OB/GYN visit usually happens in April. I'll be talking to my doctor about the vaccine, the potential side effects, etc. at that time ~ but I am a 38 year old woman. I have a specialist to speak with this about. My daughter is a child. She does not. I'm just not comfortable with her pediatrician advising us on this.

I'm definitely writing a letter to Gov. Perry about my feelings. I hope that any other Texas moms who feel the same way will do so, as well ~ perhaps he'll see the error of his ways.


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