Mandatory Safe Sex IV

Last year I had a series of posts (here, here, and here) about Texas Governor Rick Perry's attempt to force parents to administer the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil to all young girls. The political support and contributions Perry received from the drug's manufacturer was pure coincidence, of course. Ultimately he gave up under pressure from the state legislature. Parents are free to have their children vaccinated if they wish, but it is not mandatory.

At the time Perry's opponents argued that the vaccine was untested and not proven safe. Today's news suggests they may have had a point.

Health officials have touted the Gardasil vaccine as an important new protection against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted virus. In recent months, they've also noted reports of pain and fainting from the shot.

During its first year of use, reports of girls fainting from vaccinations climbed, but it's not clear whether the pain of the cervical cancer vaccine was the reason for the reaction....

Officials at Merck & Co., which makes the vaccine, acknowledge the sting. They attribute it partly to the virus-like particles in the shot. Pre-marketing studies showed more reports of pain from Gardasil than from dummy shots, and patients reported more pain when given shots with more of the particles.

Meanwhile, U.S. health officials have noticed a rise in reports of vaccine-associated fainting in girls. From 2002-2004 there were about 50 reports of fainting; from 2005 until last July, there were about 230. About 180 of those cases followed a shot of Gardasil, which came on the market in 2006.

Keep in mind that the virus Gardasil supposedly prevents is caused exclusively by sex. It doesn't spread by casual contact. The reports of pain and fainting make the whole idea of giving it to sixth-grade girls even more ludicrous.

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