September 30, 2009

A 14-year-old girl died a few hours after getting the cervical cancer vaccine.

"The virus is often transmitted through sexual intercourse and authorities wanted to give the vaccine to girls as young as 13 so they are protected by the time they become sexually active."

Isn't it strange how we are completely outraged by a man having sex with a 13-year-old girl and at the same time we've given up on keeping 13-year-old girls from having sex?

Cervical cancer is a serious disease, but it's not something that suddenly strikes children like polio or whooping cough. There is some conscious mind involved in the decision to have sexual intercourse. Why must the vaccine be foisted at such an early age on girls who might prefer to avoid sexual intercourse with multiple partners, at least until they are older, and who can make a decision when they are 18 whether they want the vaccine or the risk of cancer? I don't see the justification for treating young girls this way.

73 comments:

TosaGuy said...

Too easy to tangent on this one.

WV: ocidarth--a darkside jedi who went to Occidental College

Quayle said...

Isn't it strange how we are completely outraged by a man having sex with a 13-year-old girl and at the same time we've given up on keeping 13-year-old girls from having sex?

Ah but Ann, we're not completely outraged.

Salamandyr said...

I believe the thinking goes that the most at-risk girls will be the least likely to get the shot if it is only available on a voluntary basis. Take your pick which group they believe they are protecting: poor girls who don't receive regular medical care, and may not know the risks, or middle class girls who are scared to tell their parents they are sexually active and need the vaccine. By making it mandatory, you do an end run around disapproving parents, and forestall social ignorance. They're not getting the vaccine because they're going to have sex but because it's "required". This isn't even a bad deal for the middle class parents. They get to protect their daughters while still clinging to the possible fiction of their daughters virginity.

Your mileage may vary if you think those are good enough reasons to force girls to be vaccinated, and of course if the vaccine is a potential risk, that's something that has to be taken into account.

Seneca the Younger said...

I absolutely agree. Add the MMR to that list; after all, why not wait until the kids are 18 and can decide if they want to risk all that social contact that leads to transmission of mumps etc.

Or, alternatively, we could read up on the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy and wait until we know what the girl died of before we fret about the vaccine.

Roger J. said...

Precisely what Seneca said--if you read the entire article there is no basis whatsoever for assuming the vaccination caused the girl's death. No autopsy has been performed.

Fred4Pres said...

Isn't it strange how we are completely outraged by a man having sex with a 13-year-old girl and at the same time we've given up on keeping 13-year-old girls from having sex?

Ann, why not just come out and say Polanski should get a walk? That is what you believe isn't it? I heard John Waters say the test for legal sex should be whether minor has public hair. We are just not as enlightened as Europe about these things are we?

My daughter just got the shot. She is 11. No I do not think she is going to have sex anytime soon (and we are doing everything we can to educate her not to do that). My wife and I looked at the risk/benefits of the shot. The risk of complication is low. The cost of the shot is low. The risk of cancer is also low, but given the factors why not get it done?

And I think the ad campaign for this vaccine is shameless and is purely about drug companies trying to shill for business not public health. Anyone who has doubts about the shot should wait.

Robin said...

I have had my 14-year-old daughter vaccinated to protect against the human papilloma virus, which is a major cause of cervical cancer. My reasoning was that she is not in control of her future sexual partner(s)' sexual activity, and that she deserves the protection available to her. She is well aware that this has nothing to do with any expectation that she is or will soon be sexually active; however, should she have sex, I don't consider possible death to be the proper punishment.

BTW, I don't see any evidence in the article that the vaccine caused the child's death. There is some reason to think either that it did not, or that there was something inherent in that single child that caused the reaction, as many other children received the vaccine as well who did not die.

raf said...

@seneca
If we did not require children to attend school, you might have a point. Choosing not to have "social contact" to avoid the risk of diseases addressed by MMR is not an option. MMR is required to protect *other* kids.

I suppose we could make sexual intercourse mandatory, then your example would be parallel.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Cervical cancer is a serious disease, but it's not something that suddenly strikes children like polio or whooping cough.

You're being misleading, or you didn't read the article. The vaccine protects against HPV (which can lead to cancer), which someone of any age can get.

natatomic said...

I was never planning on getting the vaccine - I really hadn't heard much about it. But then during a recent check-up, the nurse told me I needed it. I asked her why and she simply said, "It protects you from cervical cancer."
So I agreed, because, well, who doesn't want to be protected from cancer? (Dumb me not thinking to tell her "Maybe next time," so I can find out more info first.) It wasn't until I got home and researched a bit that I realized that this type of cancer was caused by an STD. Only problem is I'm not sexually active, I've never been sexually active, and I don't plan on being sexually active until I'm married. My doctor and nurse both know this about me, so I don't see why they had to so strongly suggest that I get vaccinated, especially since I'm 23 years old. It's not as if I'm some horny teenager with fresh, raging hormones. Not to suggest that I'm numb from the neck down, because that certainly ain't the case here, but honestly...I've waited THIS long, and I have enough self-respect and will power to not give up now after all this time.
Plus, this is a new vaccine, and it turns out that they don't know what effects it might have more than 5 years down the road (I asked the nurse about it at a later, and those were HER words). So if I end up infertile or having babies with arms coming out their head (I know, I know...not exactly likely (at least the arm-head thing), but let me have my moment of panic, okay?), you better believe I'm gonna be one pissed off cancer-free woman.

Kris said...

One of the reasons you are being pushed to get it now is because it's not effective on women over age 26.

According to the Mayo Clinic's website:

The vaccine is recommended for girls ages 11 to 12, although it may be used in girls as young as age 9. This allows a girl's immune system to be activated before she's likely to encounter HPV. Vaccinating at this age also allows for the highest antibody levels. The higher the antibody levels, the greater the protection.

Tibore said...

"Seneca the Younger said...
Or, alternatively, we could read up on the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy and wait until we know what the girl died of before we fret about the vaccine."


Correct. While Professor Althouse is bringing this up in conjunction with the Roman Polanski case, we have to remember that for the UK, the issue centers around vaccinations themselves, and the hysteria over what too much of that nation's public perceives as dangers. This all started over the hideously flawed Wakefield study and has blossomed into an overall scare over vaccinations in general. And as Seneca here has pointed out, we don't even know yet what this poor girl died of. And the only evidence that even remotely links the vaccination to the death is the timeframe. That's correlation, not causation. The jury's still out over what caused her demise.

Shanna said...

Plus, this is a new vaccine, and it turns out that they don't know what effects it might have more than 5 years down the road (I asked the nurse about it at a later, and those were HER words).

Yeah, I’m not sure what the long term effects will be. I’d like to see some research, although I’m sure they’ve had it tested to get approval. I will say that even though you plan to wait until you are married you don’t know what your husband will have done, so it’s not necessarily a wash. Also, you may change your mind, if you don’t get married any time soon Just saying.

Thanks for explaining why it's targeted so young. I thought there was a reason beyond concern for very early sexual activity but I had never heard what it was.

I’m still trying to decide if I will get the H1N1 flu shot when it comes around because I’m a little worried about GBS. I just got my regular flu shot yesterday.

MadisonMan said...

My daughter received the HPV vaccine as well. And as others have noted, it has nothing to do with my assumptions about her future sex life, but more about reducing her chances of some types of cervical cancer.

Re: The girl in Europe, I'd also like to know the actual cause of death before commenting. There is something called coincidence that occurs in the world; one thing that follows another is not necessarily related to the antecedent.

Bender said...

Why must the vaccine be foisted at such an early age on girls?

Why must we lie about it being a vaccine against cancer, rather than a vaccine against an STD?

On the one hand, you have folks pushing active sexuality on younger and younger people, and on the other hand, you have folks who want to burn, draw, and quarter some old guy who bought into that idea and acted on it over 30 years ago.

The problem isn't those evil pharmaceuticals trying to prevent cancer -- it's those evil groups pushing child sexuality.

Der Hahn said...

Isn't it strange how we are completely outraged by a man having sex with a 13-year-old girl and at the same time we've given up on keeping 13-year-old girls from having sex?

non sequitur much?

I’m starting to agree with those who find your comments on Polanski inappropriately vague to the point of excusing his actions. He didn’t just ‘have sex with a 13-year-old girl’. What Polanski did (drugging the girl and forcing her to engage in anal sex) would be consider a sexual assualt even if she had been 31 instead of 13.

And 13-year-old girls have a lot more possibilities for engaging in sexual activity than men old enough to be their fathers.

phosphorious said...

"Isn't it strange how we are completely outraged by a man having sex with a 13-year-old girl and at the same time we've given up on keeping 13-year-old girls from having sex?"

The outrage is over a rape. The facts are pretty clear.

Is there no distinction between consensual and non consensual sex?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Isn't it strange how we are completely outraged by a man having sex with a 13-year-old girl...

Some girls get raped, should they also have to suffer through cervical cancer or genital warts years later on top of that trauma?

Why must the vaccine be foisted at such an early age on girls who might prefer to avoid sexual intercourse with multiple partners...

All it takes is ONE sexual partner, and aren't girls (since you want to call them girls and not young women) inexperienced and naive, likely to do "things" they may not prefer?

Bender said...

And then we have the folks who say in the succeeding sentences --

It is wrong to forcibly impose upon a young girl and we should punish it.
It is right to forcibly impose upon a young girl and we should require it for her own good.

Jason (the commenter) said...

natatomic: Only problem is I'm not sexually active, I've never been sexually active, and I don't plan on being sexually active until I'm married. My doctor and nurse both know this about me, so I don't see why they had to so strongly suggest that I get vaccinated, especially since I'm 23 years old.

Well they don't know this about the man you are going to marry. Plus, the vaccine works best before age 26. Plus, people often lie about sex, there are many "virgins" who have plenty of opportunity to be exposed to HPV. I can see why they may have acted as they did.

Triangle Man said...

Why must the vaccine be foisted at such an early age on girls who might prefer to avoid sexual intercourse with multiple partners, at least until they are older, and who can make a decision when they are 18 whether they want the vaccine or the risk of cancer?

The age of foisting is based on the requirement that the vaccine be administered prior to sexual contact with an HPV infected male. As a practical matter, the HPV status of males is unknown, so the safe route is to recommend vaccination prior to sexual debut. If the foisting were delayed even to age 17, then the opportunity to effectively vaccinate will have been missed for 60% or more girls.

Of course, the benefits of vaccinating at age 13 must be weighed against the potential harms. If HPV vaccination carries risks that are similar to other vaccinations, then the harms are practically negligible.

we've given up on keeping 13-year-old girls from having sex?

I would be that most parents have not given up on keeping their children from having sex by 13, but the success wanes as children age.

Triangle Man said...

Why must we lie about it being a vaccine against cancer, rather than a vaccine against an STD?

Because it is not a lie. HPV is the sole causative agent in the development of cervical cancer. The aim of HPV vaccination is to prevent cervical cancer in the women who have had the vaccine. That's it. Period. The aim is not to prevent some other effect of HPV infection, or to prevent the spread of HPV to others.

Cedarford said...

Quayle said...
Isn't it strange how we are completely outraged by a man having sex with a 13-year-old girl and at the same time we've given up on keeping 13-year-old girls from having sex?

"Ah but Ann, we're not completely outraged."
--------------------
They have disconnected giving the vaccine with early teen sex - it's just from studies being young, 11-14, is supposed to be the best biological time to give the vaccine to build up immunity...

However, they also say it is good because another reason is some communities and American cultures have rampant sexual activity involving 12-15 year old girls.
I mentioned a study disclosing 60% of black girls aged 12-15 in Jacksonville FL have regular sexual intercourse.

And that makes those raging against Polanski for "child sex" unable to see, or continue to seek to ignore the mountain they actually can see -- for the Polanski molehill they selectively rage at.

================
Der Hahn - "And 13-year-old girls have a lot more possibilities for engaging in sexual activity than men old enough to be their fathers."

Money, trinkets, prestige, and power are powerful aphrodisiacs to women seeking to acquire them through proffering sex.

The young 13-year old 'ho can not get as much from the 15-year old broke nobody next door as she can from the 28-year old gang-banger.

She puts out, next thing she is to her peers is the hot babe who rides in BMWs, has two new 89 dollar gold chains on her neck..and now a top bitch in the 'Hood nobody best mess with because she is hooked up to real power.

And smart enough to know that those cooing do-gooders out to infantilize her as a "child" have a message she doesn't want to hear.

That, not Polanski, is the big problem we have that we do not have good answers for. Not when 40% of the population of California, for starters, were violators of or eager "victim" participants in statutory rape at some time in their lives.

There aren't enough jails...and America already has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

I don't know if the culture in the underclass, primarily, can be changed..though there are plenty of middle class girls "doing it" as young as age 12....

But the "infantilizing" and "law enforcement hammer!!" strategy has failed.

Perhaps a strategy of society withdrawing financial support or making the pregnant 'hos live in grim barracks for unwed mommas until they can finish school and get a job might be an alternative.

Triangle Man said...

Plus, this is a new vaccine, and it turns out that they don't know what effects it might have more than 5 years down the road

Your nurse may not have known this, but HPV vaccine trials have been going on for over a decade. Even the final phase III trial of Gardasil, which enrolled more than 12,000 women, started back in 2002.

Cedarford said...

Der Hahn - He didn’t just ‘have sex with a 13-year-old girl’. What Polanski did (drugging the girl and forcing her to engage in anal sex) would be consider a sexual assualt even if she had been 31 instead of 13.

Der Hahn, I hate to break it to you, but a good deal of the 12-15 year old 'hos - the 100's of thousands in the USA each year - engage in sex grudgingly for favors and in consequence of "partying" involving drugs and booze. They aren't going to cribs just to give BJs to 5 gang members or reluctantly do anal sex.

They are there for fun, relaxation, getting favors and higher status in their community - in return for various acts of willing or not so willing submission to the whims of wealthier and more powerful, including various sex acts requested.

It isn't rape in adults when "the woman didn't want to, but assented anyways under pressure when the guy disclosed the down side of not putting out". And in the underclass, the same rules are imposed on the 'hos and bitches under age 16 or 18.

Quid pro quo.

If rape is defined on feminist definition of "initially said no, was reluctant but did it anyways because they felt 'pressured'" - half the male population of America should be in jail.

Making law does not magically make social norms disappear. And if law-flouting is so widespread as to make fair and equal enforcement impossible...especially coupled with god-awful life wrecking penalties that are only imposed on one in 10,000 "offenders"?? Then you have what the United States is being roundly criticized for by other nations. Capricious, discriminatory, even malicious law.

Remember the 8th Amendment is supposed to be there not just against cruel...but also unusual punishment.
Meaning that you are the only one in your state sentenced to a 90 days in jail for driving 10 miles an hour over 55 while most are ignored and the other ones stopped pay a modest fine...you are the victim of "unusual punishment".

And just droning a mantra of "the law is the law!" and no complaint exists for a 90 day jail sentence or being the only one getting 20 years for banging a willing 14 year old teen...doesn't cut it. Law that selective, that capricious is clearly law that not fair and impartial but driven by personal animosities in the American law enforcement community.

As Lavrenty Beria famously said to Stalin.."Show me the person you want the law to destroy, Comrade, and I will find the law to do it with."

reader_iam said...

HPV is the sole causative agent in the development of cervical cancer.

???

Triangle Man said...

???

No HPV, no cervical cancer.

John Burgess said...

The age for sexual consent in the UK is 16. That means a 13-y/o has three years, more or less, to develop antibodies following a vaccination.

This isn't to say, of course, that sub-16s aren't having sex. That was never the case, nor is it likely ever to be.

WV: hentho... no, a chick, not a hen

Larry said...

It's not even debatable that Ann's recommendation will result in more women dying of cancer. A lot more. 3,700 women die, and 10,000 get cancer. This vaccine will reduce those numbers by 70% or so.

So we have the women wait until they are 18, so they can make a more informed decision? Hmmm, and what would that be? Am I ever going to have sex or not? Sorry - but 55% of them have already had sex by then. 80% by age 20.

I guess for the 1% of women who remain virgins their entire lives, then yeah, this is a form of government TYRANNY. But for the women who are going to have sex, i.e. the other 99% of people, this vaccine drastically lowers the risk of getting cancer. So why not give the vaccine when it's going to have the most impact, i.e. BEFORE almost all of them have had sex.

Wonder what Ann would say about an AIDS vaccine. I can guarantee that 99% of parents would not want their kids to get an AIDS vaccine, because, "my" son is not a FAG. But then, nobody bothers to check with the son, who might actually be gay, and will be the one losing out if he ends up getting HIV, because his parents wouldn't him let him get the vaccine.

So Ann's premise is dumb. This is not the child's choice. It's the parent's choice. And the parent is essentially gambling that their daughter is not a slut. When there's a 55% chance that she is.

Triangle Man said...

the sole causative agent

I should have written "necessary causative agent".

former law student said...

Girls taking Gardasil will protect (considerate, sexually active) men too, according to a 2008 article:

A new study by researchers in the US suggests that the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes as many cases of oral cancer in men as tobacco and alcohol and will overtake the latter within the next ten years. They suggest the main reasons are changes in men's sexual behaviour and the decline in oral cancers not caused by HPV.

The study is published in the February 1st issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and is the work of researchers at the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, and the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, also in Maryland.

HPV is known to cause cervical cancer in women, and there are vaccination programmes in many countries, including the US, to immunize girls and young women against the strains of HPV that are thought to cause over 70 per cent of cervical cancers, for which there are 12,000 new cases and nearly 4,000 deaths in the US alone every year.

Previous research has already shown there is a risk of a range of genital and oral cancers in men also resulting from HPV infection, but as yet there are no immunization programmes for men against HPV.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/96053.php

PatCA said...

I think we need to define the "we" who is supporting this vaccine. IMO the "we" is the liberal intelligentsia who are trying to soften the consequences of "early and often" sexuality. If you look a the TV commercials, it is easy to see they are pointedly directed at lower class or minority children, and why. Liberal racial pandering.

But this vaccine, or abortion, or government childcare/welfare, will never replace morality, if the goal is to help people grow up healthy and happy. Even if God doesn't exist, the rules work better than vaccines.

reader_iam said...

There have been drugs which while tested for a seemingly (and subjectively) long length of time turned out to have problems. Perhaps the "long time" wasn't long enough. Perhaps the results from testing within one group (whether gender, age cohort, ethnically based) turns out not to translate as accurate for another. Perhaps the wrong factor was focused upon. Whatever the reason, it seems to me best to be a bit more skeptical about the reliability of testing unless it's very comprehensive and longitudinal indeed.

My comments are not an argument against the vaccine or even, per se, against early provision of it. They are in response to what I'm perceiving as some rather imprecise language being used in support of it, and some--perhaps--questionable assumptions, or, to put it better some--perhaps--not questioned enough assumptions.

For my part, I think the jury is still out. I fully understand that others disagree and respect their choices with regard to themselves and their own children.

traditionalguy said...

The Professor is pointing out the schizophrenia involved in sexual morality based criminal laws we all agree are correct and necessary, with the State also pushing our daughters into being treated as cattle are treated in a herd of sexual livestock that we are making available to breed at will with every boy toy that wants to have fun for the night. There is no purpose in the first attitude when we are acquiescing in the second attitude.

reader_iam said...

Triangle Man, my understanding is that even in the relevant types of cervical cancer, while HPV is present in most cases, it isn't in ALL cases (which casts doubt even on the addition of the word NECESSARY), nor has it been definitively named as the primary factor, or a solely *sufficient* one. (It might also be useful to note that most women with HPV do NOT go on to develop cervical cancer).

Perhaps my understanding is wrong? (Not snark: I certainly could be, can be, have been, wrong.)

Also, there is the issue of unintended side effects and consequences, sometimes unknown for a very long time.

Again, I very much respect others' choices, but I also would be quite hesitant to accept the vaccination for my own minor daughter, if I had one, at this time.

(Note: I'm not an anti-vaccine activist, nor even anti-vaccine; my son has received standard vaccines.)

former law student said...

When I was born, the state in its infinite wisdom considered that there was a real possibility that could not be ignored that my mother -- my sainted mother, who kept her purity until Holy Matrimony -- had gonorrhea. Thus the state mandated that silver nitrate drops be put into my eyes to prevent blindness.

But consider that my dad had been around the block: he had served in the Army, in Asia, and just might have lost his virginity before he met my mother.

The chance that a random girl will never have sex until she bonds for life with a random guy who has never had sex is perhaps 1%. Not good odds if you want to prevent cancer.

reader_iam said...

I agree, by the way, that it's too early to comment about the relationship, if any, between this young teen's death and her receiving the vaccine.

reader_iam said...

Remember when hysterectomies were over-prescribed a few decades back?

Remember the flap over HRT?

Also, hasn't it become fairly clear that the use of oral contraceptives in the teen-age years can increase the risk of various types of cancer in women later in life? If we're concerned about the future adult health of female teens with respect to an increased (or lowered) chance of developing cancer later in life, ought we not be concerned about this?

OK, I'm playing a bit of the devil's advocate here. However, I think the previous paragraph asks valid questions. And I do think it's a bit schizophrenic to advocate [mandatory, where applicable] HPV vaccines for 13- to 18-year-olds while also advocating easy availability of oral contraceptives for that same group.

Obviously, my last sentence applies ONLY (and then not necessarily, depending on the arguments) to those who in fact DO hold both those positions, and specifically relating to managing potential, future increased cancer risks.

wv: fackste

I kid you not.

Chris said...

This is probably Althouse's dumbest post ever. (a) correlation ne causation; (b) the wonderful world we now live in didn't happen by magic--vaccination played a huge part; and (c) the doctors who picked the best age for HPV vaccination didn't pick the number out of a hat.

Joe said...

HPV is the sole causative agent in the development of cervical cancer

I don't believe that's true. HPV is one cause and the vaccine only protects you against two of the four strains.

It may be that of cervical cancers caused by a virus, HPV is the sole cause.

(While searching various medical sites, I ran across this "A rare type of cervical cancer has been diagnosed in a small number of women whose mothers took diethylstilbestrol (DES).")

Triangle Man said...

while HPV is present in most cases, it isn't in ALL cases

This is true, virus has not always been detected in a tumor at the time of diagnosis, but this is likely related to the timing of infection relative to diagnosis with cancer (or neoplasia) and the attempt to detect viral infection retrospectively.

In studies that have carefully followed the occurrence of HPV infection in women over time, it is pretty clear that those who get cervical cancer have previously been infected with HPV, and those who do not get infected with HPV do not develop cervical cancer. There is some room for error in detection of HPV and diagnosis with disease, but within these limits, there is good consensus that HPV infection has to have happened prior to the development of cervical cancer. This is why I say HPV is a necessary cause.

(It might also be useful to note that most women with HPV do NOT go on to develop cervical cancer).

You are correct again. There are other factors that can influence the likelihood that cervical cancer will occur in women who are HPV infected. This is why it was sloppy to say that HPV was the "sole causative agent", but it is the one that needs to be addressed to efficiently prevent disease at the population level.


Note that you can find references to cervical cancer caused by other exposures over the years, but these exposures are exceedingly rare in comparison to HPV. Out of the more than 12,000 cases that occur in the U.S. each year, these would account for only a handful.

former law student said...

The web article I cited states that the two viral strains Gardasil protects against account for 70% of cervical cancers. A two-thirds reduction sounds plenty good to me.

But likely there are girls who for health reasons should not get this vaccine -- any side effects should be investigated thoroughly.

Sarah said...

I really disagree with mandatory HPV vaccinations. As Althouse said, this isn't whooping cough or measles; you don't get it just because because of being near somebody who coughs. I'm not comfortable with the extent or duration of the vaccine's testing, especially given that it targets a very sensitive system.

That said, I do think that it should be strongly advocated for at the doctor's office, and that the child should have the opportunity to make the choice whether to have it or not without the parents.

Yeah, it may bother some people who are virgins and intent on being virgins and marrying virgins to have it sold so vigorously by the medical community. I remember being vaguely offended at my doctor's insistence that I really didn't KNOW my future husband was a virgin (we were both 26yo virgins, I guess in that mystical 1 percent). But being mildly offended by your doctor is not actually a big deal, especially versus the gains of having girls educated and empowered with the choices about their own reproductive systems.

MadisonMan said...

I really disagree with mandatory HPV vaccinations.

Where are these vaccinations mandatory? Where in the US is any vaccination mandatory?

Synova said...

I'm really surprised at how many people seem utterly convinced that being cautious about vaccines means a person is an idiot.

I'm far from being on any sort of anti-vaccine wagon but I have seldom been able to get a straight answer out of any nurse or doctor about the non-mandatory vaccines, pro or con. I don't think that it's my imagination either but I've become convinced that the doctors or public health nurses handing out the pharmaceutical company glossy fliers for chicken pox vaccines (for example) are corporate hacks. And I *approve* of these companies making money. I do *not* think they are evil. I just want to FEEL as if the person giving me health care advice is an independent agent and telling me the truth and not just selling the next thing.

And particularly when it comes to reproductive systems I worry. Altering hormones with the Pill is screwing with a physical system that works and *yes* we are now finding out that using the Pill increases risk of a number of things, including cancer. (As does abortion.) Women in my generation and slightly younger are finding that the "safe" drugs given to their mothers for morning sickness have made them infertile. Those are just the most obvious things.

And I'm supposed to accept that I'm an idiot alarmist for preferring caution in relation to a brand new vaccine for a disease related to sexual activity? It's not as if any of the *advertisements* say that the more years to build up antibodies before sexual activity the better... they don't say that. Why not? They don't say that the most effective time is right at puberty in order for an adult woman to have the best protection. Why not?

If they did, I'd still be cautious, but I wouldn't have the other reaction that I have when I watch the *advertisements* which is very near what Althouse expressed which is, Why are we promoting sexual activity in barely pubescent girls? Why are we just giving up even the pretense that our daughters are real people who possess self-determination and forces of will?

No, sexual activity is like the kid in the next desk coughing on you.

And if that is not what those promoting the vaccine and producing the advertisements are assuming, why don't they treat me like an intelligent adult and give me actual *real* information on which to make a decision?

Because, quite frankly, a bunch of competent looking middle class women with wide-set eyes assuring me that they got *their* daughter vaccinated just doesn't do it for me.

kynefski said...

Well, even if there's no causal link here, and I doubt there is, the question deserves to be addressed.

Unless you are very strictly libertarian, you have to acknowledge public health interests when it comes to communicable infectious diseases. It is commendable if your daughter intends to be sexually conservative in her behavior, but if I don't have to trust her, I won't.

Incidentally, if you've had your kids vaccinated against serum hepatitis, it was with the same understanding. We don't worry that they'll stick each other with needles!

Sarah said...

Where are these vaccinations mandatory? Where in the US is any vaccination mandatory?

I was unclear in my comment. I meant that I'm opposed to the idea of required Gardisil vaccination, as opposed to the actual fact of it, which I'm not educated on.

Mandatory is also the wrong word choice -- I should have used required, which is the language that public school systems tend to use. Certain immunizations are "required" for enrollment into kindergarten, for example.

Now, I'm not a lawyer and I'm not sure how seriously one SHOULD take the phrase "required" from the public school system, but if I was a parent in Fairfax County, VA, for example, and looking up my responsibilities before sending my preteen to middle school, I'd see this page -- http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/immun/immunchild.htm -- read this quote "Immunizations required for students entering 6th grade:
Tdap, HepB and, for females, HPV" and sure think that I had to get my child immunized.

And again, I'm not a lawyer. I'm sure there's an exemption of some sort for religious or other disagreement. I just don't think that HPV should be in the same "required" class as tuberculosis. Highly recommended, sure, but not required.

John Lynch said...

It's a big picture public health initiative.

If you vaccinate everyone, some people will have bad reactions and die. However, more people will be saved from dying of cancer. It's really not any different from any other vaccine.

Yes, people can control their sex lives, but it's hard to see how you'd have fewer bad reactions if it's given at 18 instead of 13, and you'd have more cancer cases.

On an individual level it is an intrusion into our lives, and it's none of their damn business. So, this is a classic case of whether or not the government knows what's better for us, or not.

Personally, I think the public hysteria over vaccines kills far more people than the vaccines will. But I can see why forcing people to get shots is an intrusion.

reader_iam said...

MadisonMan:

I hope anyone who notes anything factally inaccurate in what I'm about to write will jump in and say so. I have not researched it recently or comprehensively, and don't have time to do that right now.

That said:

In England, a nationwide through-school program to vaccinate all girls with HPV is under way. (My understanding is that indeed it is not, strictly speaking, mandatory, in that parents can make positive, proactive efforts to opt out. There is, however, from what I understand, a serious push to make it mandatory.) It is under this program that the 14-year-old girl--and again, I think it way too soon to link her death to the vaccine--who died received her vaccination.

In the U.S., there is--or at least there was--proposals in, as I recall it (researched this a couple years back, I think)--something like 25% of the states, including Wisconsin, to pursue a similar policy; that is, to "require" the vaccination on a population basis (and associated with schools in some way, whether in distribution or with regard to having to provide proof of vaccination, as with other types of vaccines), with some type of opt-out provision, it is true. There is also a desire on the parts of some to make it mandatory (to be fair, as there is with all vaccines, though in most places the opt-out provision remains in force).

Whether mandatory or merely required with an opt-out provision (in many cases a grudging one), the thrust is strong, strong state bias for administering the vaccine. This concerns me with regard to this vaccine, in particular (though not only this one), due to the concerns and for the reasons I've already stated earlier on this thread.

MadisonMan said...

At least in Wisconsin, the place I'm familiar with, any parent can tell the schools that their kid has not been immunized because they (the parent) have chosen not to do it. And the school says Okey Dokey.

I could be completely wrong, as my kids were immunized; my daughter is one of the rare ones who reacts to the HiB vaccine, but she still got it. But my vague recollection from discussions when the kids were K-2ish is that parental decisions rule.

So as you say, and to quote, sort of, Whoopi, it's not Mandatory mandatory.

Jason (the commenter) said...

readeriam: There have been drugs which while tested for a seemingly (and subjectively) long length of time turned out to have problems.

Vaccines aren't drugs though; they aren't new chemicals which human systems have never before been exposed to.

In this case the vaccine is part of the virus which causes HPV, which humans have been exposed to for time immemorial.

former law student said...

Going to the dailymail.co.uk (the unfortunate girl was English) website, I see the vaccine given to her was Cervarix, not Gardasil. The FDA has yet to approve Cervarix, which was submitted to them two years ago. So maybe the FDA had valid misgivings.

reader_iam said...

So, if it DOES turn out that there's a problem with Cervarix, one might conclude that it wasn't tested thoroughly enough or long enough before a government, shall we say, *strongly encouraged* its injection into young girls on a mass scale?

How can that be?!

Joan said...

No safety concerns about the vaccines have been raised elsewhere.

Really? The same paper, just 6 months ago, ran this story about 1,300 girls suffering side effects from the vaccine.

Triangle Man said...

The same paper, just 6 months ago, ran this story

Well, if the same paper raised the concerns, then that's not elsewhere.

:)

.

peter hoh said...

What's with the "academic freedom" tag?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Didn't Texas mandate the vaccine for girls, until it turned out that Merck was funneling money to the governor?

Ah, yes.

May I add, that I am vastly irritated by the fact the it's not "everyone" who is supposed to get this vaccine, it is girls only.

1 - Once again, females bear the entire burden for sexual purity. (The extreme example of this, of course, is burkhas in the ME so that men don't have to have self control.)

2 - "But Laura," you say, "it's girls who get cervical cancer."

2a - They get HPV from boys. Some girls won't get the vaccine, in some it will not take. So if we're serious about this, boys should get it too.

2b - What about gay boys and men. I have a gay male friend who almost died from cancer due to HPV.

3 - There is a school of thought that protection only lasts a few years. If that's the case, if a girl gets the vaccine at age 11 - 13, and eschews sex until 20, it did nothing for her at all.

awrhl1218 said...

More misinformation from an American. You make us all look bad. Validate the info before posting. Likely if its from the media it needs validation. Makes me think Gore Vidal was correct

All posted the same day of your blog posting.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6854608.ece

or if you prefer US sources

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33070294/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/

Laura(southernxyl) said...

awrhl, I looked at those articles.

(Do you not know how to link properly? Here.

Both articles said that the girl had a "serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death" (then why did they give her the vaccine?) but that she appeared healthy. (Then how can we know which girls have this mysterious underlying condition so we can not give them the vaccine?)

Christy said...

FWIW, among the ladies-who-lunch everyone has a friend who has a friend whose daughter was seriously harmed by the cervical cancer vaccine. And these are not anti-vaccination women. Just saying. Perception Rules!

Eric said...

Both articles said that the girl had a "serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death" (then why did they give her the vaccine?) but that she appeared healthy. (Then how can we know which girls have this mysterious underlying condition so we can not give them the vaccine?)

I suspect if you take a large group of girls (say, a million or so) and write their names on a piece of paper you will find one of them dies within four hours of having her name written. I'm not surprised you can find a correlation between the vaccine and some number of deaths. But it doesn't necessarily mean anything at all.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Eric, excuse me, but that's kind of silly.

Writing a person's name on a piece of paper is not the same as injecting a mixture of substances into her body with the intention of bringing about a response from her immune system.

There's no reasonable cause-and-effect chain that you can draw from writing a person's name on a piece of paper, and that person's subsequent death. Unless you're signing her warrant for execution, of course.

blake said...

Here's a fun thought.

Suppose you give this vaccine to a bunch of 11 year olds now, who would be at risk 15 years from now for cervical cancer. Assuming the vaccine is good for that long.

A handful die.

More than a handful suffer other serious side-effects, including a lifelong debilitating condition, due to some unforeseen impact of the vaccine.

Then, seven or eight years from now, a cure for cancer is found. And cancer becomes like a mild infection: Can be fatal if untreated, but pretty much easily resolved even into late stages.

Also, I agree with Laura: Why are boys off the hook? Everyone's talking about men giving this disease to women (rapists or promiscuous husbands), why aren't the men getting it?

Doesn't the "herd immunity" argument used for pretty much all other vaccines come into play here?

former law student said...

Why are boys off the hook?

1. Self-interest motivates people to get vaccinated, because there are always side effects, as well as the chance of getting the disease.

2. Boys don't get cervical cancer.

3. Why do it, then?

Sexually active men, do however, get oral cancer from HPV they get from performing cunnilingus.

Presumably such considerate men are in high demand, enough so that they can select only Gardasiled young women.

blake said...

Is that supposed to be funny, FLS?

Largo said...

@larry
"""I guess for the 1% of women who remain virgins their entire lives, then yeah, this is a form of government TYRANNY. """

Is SHOUTING the new "scare quotes"?

Largo said...

"""So Ann's premise is dumb. This is not the child's choice. It's the parent's choice. And the parent is essentially gambling that their daughter is not a slut. When there's a 55% chance that she is."""

Err, Bayes' theorem?

Largo said...

@FLS

"""The chance that a random girl will never have sex until she bonds for life with a random guy who has never had sex is perhaps 1%. Not good odds if you want to prevent cancer."""

Bayes' Theorem!

Largo said...

@blake:

Well, I thought it was hilarious!

Nicely done, FLS. Considerate men indeed!

J.J. Schmidt said...

"Isn't it strange how we are completely outraged by a man having sex with a 13-year-old girl and at the same time we've given up on keeping 13-year-old girls from having sex?"

No. What is strange is that you refer to the Polanski rape as "having sex." Drugging and raping someone is not "having sex," Ann. You really should know better.

former law student said...

AP quotes the coroner as saying that the girl likely died from a massive tumor in her chest that affected her heart and lungs:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33117752/ns/health-cancer/

Eric said...

Writing a person's name on a piece of paper is not the same as injecting a mixture of substances into her body with the intention of bringing about a response from her immune system.

Oh, I'm not saying it's impossible a vaccine could be bad for you. I'm just saying the fact that a 14-year-old died a few hours after getting the vaccine means absolutely nothing in and of itself. The question is whether or not a person is more likely to die after the injection.

jt said...

What about the practice of vaccinating babies against Hep B (transmitted through sex and needles) just hours after they enter the world? I'm pretty confident in my ability to protect my kids from sex and drugs for the first few years of their life.