It’s no surprise to me that Michele Bachmann would have strong views on Gov. Rick Perry’s executive order mandating girls in Texas receive the HPV vaccine. It is, after all, something that sounds scary… “What? Inject our young girls with a shot that will inoculate them against an STD? They’re so young! Who would do such a thing?”
It’s the perfect platform for a woman as a presidential candidate to speak out on behalf of women everywhere against policies for women created and administered by….men. However, my fear is that in her zeal to call Perry on the carpet and expose this “violation of a liberty interest” she’s missing the point. (and yes I got the point about Merck giving him campaign donations)
Here’s what I don’t get, why so many women seem to be uneducated about a virus which causes cervical cancer.
I was diagnosed with severe dysplasia in 1995. My questionable boyfriend at the time aside, I had no more idea of what “dysplasia” was and what caused it than I did how to explain exothermic chemical reactions to a class of wanna-be rocket scientists. I only wish someone could have administered a vaccine to me so that I could have been spared dozens of painful biopsy’s and ultimately an agonizing procedure which might one day make it impossible for me to carry a child full term.
I get what Rick Perry was trying to do, even if Michele Bachmann didn’t. One in 3 women will be diagnosed with human papiloma virus. It is a sexually transmitted disease. It is the same disease that causes genital warts and cervical cancer, depending on which strain of the virus you contract. There is no known cure. And according to the National Cancer Institute it is responsible for nearly all cases of cervical cancer, not just some, ALL. So when your grandmother develops cervical cancer, yes she had HPV too.
Here’s my thing, I didn’t know any of this until it was too late. No one explains this when you’re young, and if they did, were you really listening? Or were you more worried about whether or not you flunked your algebra test in the period before or if you were going to go to the football game on Friday night? More importantly, with the current state of our education system, who knows what STD’s they’re covering in health class these days. Yet, instead of arguing for moving away from standardized testing, a valid debate, we’re spending our presidential prime time minutes talking about how “the HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation” which in my opinion is just…retarded!
I should point out a key fact that was missed all together during Bachmann’s rant about giving poor young 12 year-old girls a vaccine is that according to the CDC, the vaccine, which is given in 3 stages, is most effective when given to young women starting at ages 11-12. You can read all about it here: http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-vaccine-young-women.htm
Bottom line, kids are making choices about sex at earlier and earlier ages, without knowing what they’re getting in to. Yes, parents, you’re there to guide them, but hell, my mom didn’t even know what HPV was when I got it, which is why if there’s a vaccine available to prevent HPV, wouldn’t you want your child to have it? Families need to talk about these things, but all too often they don’t, because they don’t know where to start.
My point is, we start vaccinating our kids as early as 3 months old. Keeping our kids safe and healthy as long as we can is just another part of being a good parent. And as a mother with 3 daughters, and 23 foster kids (so who knows how many girls are in that gaggle) wouldn’t you think Michele Bachmann would want to do everything she could to make sure her daughters don’t go through what I did?