After the most recent presidential debate, where she rightly highlighted the very poor decision of Texas Governor Rick Perry to mandate Merck’s Gardasil vaccine for HPV, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann reported the concerns of a distraught mother about the severe side effects of Gardasil had on her daughter. Since then she has been absolutely pilloried by physicians, politicians, and political operatives on both sides of the aisle. While admitting that perhaps the case could have benefitted from more detailed vetting, and the term “brain damage” instead of “mental retardation” would have been more accurate, here are a few reasons both medically and politically why the criticism of the congresswoman is so rabidly and almost delusionally intense as well as incorrect:
1) This incident sheds more unwanted light on the controversial nature of this vaccine – Dr. Diane Harper is the lead researcher for the development of both Gardasil, the HPV vaccine by Merck mandated by Governor Rick Perry in Texas and Cervarix, the product by GlaxoSmithKline. She and other physicians, as well as families of HPV vaccine victims who have died or been seriously injured, have been making important statements about the many problems with these HPV vaccines:
a) Due to the high rates of screening, cervical cancer is not the crisis in the United States being portrayed by vaccine advocates –
“What is left out is that 95% of all HPV infections are cleared spontaneously by the body's immune system. The remaining 5% progress to cancer precursors. Cancer precursors, specifically CIN 3, progresses to invasive cancer in the following proportions: 20% of women with CIN 3 progress to invasive cervical cancer in five years; 40% progress to cervical cancer in thirty years. There is ample time to detect and treat the early precancers and early stage cancers for 100% cure.” [Harper interview by Yerman]
b) The vaccine is associated with serious adverse effects including death and brain damage– Despite the efforts of the CDC to explain away the dozens of deaths in previously healthy young women closely associated in time with this vaccine, there are real problems with Gardasil and Cervarix. The serious adverse reactions that seem to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacking itself) result in, among other very serious problems, central nervous system problems like encephalomyelitis (brain inflammation due to infection or inflammation) that can cause mental impairment otherwise known as mental retardation –
- In a response to two bioethicists ethically challenged “challenge” to Michele Bachmann to produce a child that was made mentally retarded by Gardasil, the group SaneVax produced a table of adverse effects from HPV vaccines reported to VAERS containing hundreds of reports including those of “encephalitis,” “encephalomyelitis,” “cognitive impairment,” and “mental status changes.” All of these conditions can cause or are evidence of mental retardation. SaneVax and the Alliance for Human Research Protection noted 17 different peer reviewed journal articles noting cases of brain damage and other central nervous problems from this vaccine.
- Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon and researcher, discussed in an interview the peer reviewed research papers he has written and the fact that some of the major side effects of vaccines that the Institute of Medicine has admitted are seizures and brain damage that can lead to mental retardation. He also discussed the low rate of reports of vaccine problems, being somewhere in the range of 2%, due to the passive and voluntary nature of the system. According to Blaylock’s estimate, it is likely that there are more than 600 deaths and over 100,000 serious adverse events from this vaccine.
- The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) has also stated that Michele Bachmann is correct to question the mandate saying, “She repeated one parent's statement that the vaccine apparently caused cognitive problems in her child, and no one has disproven that possibility. We need to hear more, not less, about parents' and patients' experiences with these vaccines, so that they can weigh the risks and benefits for themselves. Vaccines, like all medical treatments, should be given only with fully informed consent
- .An Indiana child’s experience after Gardasil was described as follows - “Her daughter, Zeda was a normal, healthy 13-year-old who loved her family, her friends and her phone. She once was a popular cheerleader and A-B student, who texted and talked tirelessly. Now, she is silent. She is strapped to her wheelchair, her head leaning against a head rest, her eyes wandering, seemingly sightless. She can neither walk, eat, nor speak.
- ”“Gardasil® is associated with GBS [Guillian-Barre Syndrome] that has resulted in deaths.” [Harper ]
- "I have personally witnessed the devastation caused by severe vaccine reaction, including patients, their children, nurses and my own family.To proceed with mass vaccination against this embellished "threat" is irresponsible.” [Clayton Young, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. from an email dated 7/5/06]
c) No evidence of effectiveness -
- “At this time, Gardasil® is proven to last for at least 5 years, and Cervarix® for at least 8.5 years. Health policy analyses show that there will be no reduction in cervical cancer unless the vaccine lasts at least 15 years.” [Harper here]
- "Pap smears have never killed anyone. Pap smears are an effective screening tool to prevent cervical cancer. Pap smears alone prevent more cervical cancers than can the vaccines alone. “ [Yerman interview of Diane Harper]
d) False sense of security due to incomplete coverage – There are many types of HPV that cause cancer. The vaccines do not cover them all, which means that women still can get cervical cancer despite the vaccine and still need pap screening. [Harper here]
- “Many vaccinated women have returned to me in clinic with more abnormal Pap tests and more HPV disease. They are tremendously disappointed when told that Gardasil does not protect against all types of HPV, and that they are still at risk for cervical cancer.
- “Yes, there is a real risk that cervical cancer will increase in the U.S. if those women getting Gardasil do not realize: a) Gardasil will not protect them for life b)They can get other HPV infections that lead to cancer that are not covered by Gardasil c) They need to continue to have Pap tests throughout their lifetime"
- e) The system set up to monitor vaccines reactions is totally inadequate – According to the federal law dealing with vaccine injury, vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe,” meaning that they have inherent risk. These vaccines have not been subjected to scientifically rigorous placebo controlled safety trials before they have been approved for use in children. Furthermore, most vaccine data remain undisclosed--inaccessible to independent scientific scrutiny. According to the National Vaccine Information Center, only 1-10% of vaccine reactions are reported. In addition, there is not adequate enough statistical analysis to tell whether a reaction is causally related to the vaccine or not:
- “VAERS is biased in both directions, not allowing any veritable conclusions to be drawn about vaccine safety. If an association with an adverse event is detected statistically, there is not enough information collected in VAERS to determine causation, which is a multi-step process. Likewise, if no association with an adverse event is detected statistically, there is not enough information to reassure the public that no serious adverse events occur.” [Harper here]
- “Due to the passive nature of the system submission of adverse event reports is the only method for determining the actual safety of vaccines. Therefore VAERS reports are of critical importance for identifying any that may be harmful. Evidence suggests these reports have been overlooked in most acute care settings.” [Emergency Physician and author of Dancing Cats Silent Canaries, Dr. David Davis]
2) This incident also shows the extent that pharmaceutical corruption specifically and crony capitalism in general is harming public safety and undermining liberty – Besides the $30,000 of Merck contributions to Rick Perry leading to the executive order, there are numerous other financial links to prominent politicians and doctors during the development of and since the introduction of Gardasil where payments to or employment of these individuals that seem to be clouding judgment of both medical professionals and politicians. It is extremely disturbing to note the web of conflict of interest associated with this vaccine and that most of the groups and individuals in the medical establishment that are so critical of Bachmann have some sort of conflict of interest. It also explains why the backlash against her is so vitriolic.
- Gardasil was developed by a public-private partnership between the US Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that oversees the CDC, which recommends the vaccines schedule, and Merck.
- Dr. Julie Gerberding, former head of the CDC, who oversaw the addition of Gardasil to the list of CDC recommended vaccines, went to work for Merck, the company whose products she used to regulate, as president of their vaccine division within just a few months after leaving the CDC.
- Besides the contributions to Perry, Merck contributed an undisclosed amount to a group called Women in Government that was pushing legislative mandates of Gardasil in multiple states.
- Merck donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology for continuing medical education classes that included and promoted Gardasil.
- Bioethicist Dr. Art Caplan along with Dr, Stven Miles made an unethical bet with Congresswoman Bachmann to produce cases of Gardasil victims that want to submit to having their private medical records splashed all over the media in order to prove that vaccines cause retardation. According to the Alliance for Human Research Protection, an organization on whose board I proudly serve, “Art Caplan is the director of the Bioethics Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which has been criticized for its copious pharmaceutical industry funding.”
- Critics of a California law awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s signature list Merck contributions to legislators that voted in favor of the bill. This bill would allow children as young as twelve years old to receive vaccines to prevent sexually transmitted diseases like Gardasil and the Hepatitis B vaccine without parental permission or even knowledge.
- Dr. Paul Offit, is a staunch vaccine defender and proponent and has been all over the media in this situation. He is a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that writes the vaccine schedule for the CDC, which has a financial stake in the development of Gardasil. He holds the chairmanship of the Infectious Diseases Division at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is endowed by Merck and receives millions of dollars of royalties for another Merck vaccine for rotavirus that he helped develop that was removed from the market temporarily for causing deaths in infants. Yet he has been criticized for being less than forthright about his financial ties to Merck.
3) Finally, the attacks on Michele Bachmann are so intense because she is rattling the political establishment and daring to bring up issues of temperament and ethics regarding the media and establishment ordained front runners –Some pundits like Michelle Malkin have rightly brought up the significant concerns about Perry’s willingness to legislate by executive order based on feelings like “hating cancer.”
I’m glad Rick Perry is pro-life. But public officials cannot govern based on how they feel. They must think. ..Their job is not to mandate life-saving interventions at any cost. Especially if the price is liberty-curtailment. ..“If it saves just one life” is a fiscally imprudent and morally irresponsible justification for massive government intervention — and antithetical to core Tea Party principles.”
Mark Steyn wisely said, “And the worrying thing is if he assumes that the state can simply supplant parental wishes in those circumstances, on that issue, what can't it do?”
Although Mitt Romney did not mandate a vaccine for young girls of dubious safety and effectiveness, he did sign into law the individual mandate in Massachusetts requiring every sitizen to have to buy health insurance, on which Obamacare is modeled. Romney also said said during the last debate that he would nulify Obama care with an executive order on his first day in office. His cavalier idea that he can legislate by executive order is also disturbing. If he thinks he can act without the Congress on that issue, how else will he use or abuse executive authority?
Instead of dealing with these very important issues of abuse of power and crony capitalism in candidates for the most powerful office in the world, media and pundits have savagely attacked Michele Bachmann for merely daring to report what independent medical professionals see as a plausible scenario. Bachmann’s detractors have ignored, belittled, and demeaned the very real plight of the HPV vaccine victims. Her compassion for this family and her courage to go against the medical and political establishment that seek to obfuscate the significant questions and dangers involved with the ever expanding state regardless of the goodness of intentions as well as this particular vaccine with its dubious connections and poor record should be commended, not controversial.