Thanks to Ed Silverman at Pharmalot for posting on this issue, and for his links.
I’ve blogged in the past here and here about how Merck created a complex scheme to market Gardasil vaccine through mandates from state legislatures. It seemed this was not working, as only one state and the District of Columbia passed such mandates. After Governor Rick Perry of Texas, whose former chief of staff was a Merck lobbyist, used an executive order to mandate HPV vaccine for children in Texas in 2007, the Texas legislature voted to rescind the mandate.
But now it gets worse. A bill in the California legislature would take away parental rights to make the decision about HPV vaccine. Twelve year olds could be offered the vaccine in school and decide for themselves whether to take it.
The sleight of hand used to accomplish this was to call HPV infection a sexually transmitted disease (yes, it is an STD) and then treat the vaccine as if it were a medicine used to cure an STD. Although California law already allows children 12 and older to consent to treatment for sexually transmitted diseases without involvement from their parents, the proposed bill would expand that right to immunizations.
This is a situation in which a group of California bishops has the same impression as I about this legislation, and they are speaking out:
“Most parents are involved in the lives of their minor children and need to know if they are seeking medical care, regardless of whether the care is curative or preventative. This bill appears to be an ‘end run’ following the failure in 2007 to mandate HPV vaccination for all girls entering public junior high school – a measure strongly opposed by parents’ rights groups and vetoed by the Governor.”
Let’s watch what happens to this bill.