In Texas, the only state actually to have implemented a mandate promoted by the Merck & Co. drug maker to require schoolgirls to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease, a campaign is under way to overturn the plan.
As WND reported just this week, Merck said it was halting its efforts to pressure states into making the use of its vaccine, Gardasil, mandatory because of the backlash among physicians, consumer advocates, parents and even legislators.
The company said its “aggressive lobbying campaign” was designed to boost the sales of Gardasil, the only vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the few strains of the human papillomavirus that it affects.
In Texas, while the lobbying already had begun, Gov. Rick Perry suddenly issued an executive order mandating that all schoolgirls had to be vaccinated against the STD.
Christian ministers and state lawmakers there both reacted negatively to his actions.
“Merck’s announcement that they were going to back off of their full court press to prematurely lobby mandatory vaccination through state legislatures illustrates just how much they were in fact an influence over the governor’s decision,” said the pastors in a statement released by the U.S. Pastor Council, an interdenominational, interracial coalition based in the Houston area.
“The reality is that they intended to use their significant financial resources to run over sound medical process, legislative review, parental authority and the best interests of our children,” the pastors said.
Ninety state lawmakers already have signed on as co-sponsors to a plan that would overturn Perry’s executive order.
“The fact that Merck admits the vaccine is only effective for five years combined with the average age of 47 for a cervical cancer patient according to the American Cancer society patently illustrates that governor did not do his homework,” said the pastors. “This has gone from a misuse of executive authority to the violation of the trust we place in elected officials to protect the citizens.”
The pastors’ coalition includes representatives from a wide range of cultural and denominational heritages “who have come together to bring a Biblical perspective to social, cultural, moral and political issues.”
Opponents to the vaccine mandate noted that while Merck was halting its lobbying program, the proposal already is under consideration legislatures in about 30 states as well as the District of Columbia.
Its costs are estimated to be in the $360-$400 per person range, which could mean billions of dollars in revenue for the company, depending on the number of state legislatures convinced that requiring the vaccine is appropriate.
Strains of HPV have been connected to cervical cancer cases. However, HPV cannot be transmitted easily; it is gotten only through sexual contact.
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., also has proposed a plan to discourage states from requiring parents to have their underage daughters – those heading into sixth grade – vaccinated for the STD. His effort would ban the use of federal money for mandatory programs, but allow it for voluntary programs.
As WND has reported, the Merck campaign to make the vaccination of young girls mandatory was sweeping the nation.
The National Conference of State Legislatures set up a special website just to track and update the various campaigns.
The mandates appeared to be a coordinated effort because a number of the sponsors of the plans are members of Women in Government, an organization set up for female state lawmakers that runs an attached website promoting the vaccine and mandates that would require its use.
Merck & Co. is a financial contributor to Women in Government, although both Merck and Women in Government, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, have declined to release how much that support is.
David Welch, of the U.S. Pastor Council, said he had notified 7,000 Christian churches of the threat to parental influence on daughters when Perry’s order was signed.
Welch told WND he wondered why by executive order schoolgirls were being ordered to be treated with “a broad and possibly risky vaccination … when this is a behavior-based problem?”
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