Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Speaking of "ugly assumptions"...

I usually enjoy reading the columns in the Post by Courtland Milloy, even when I disagree with him. Today's tongue-in-cheek column, however, rushed right past "thought-provoking" and veered into nutbar territory.

The subject of the column (headlined "District's HPV Proposal Tinged With Ugly Assumptions") is a proposal being considered by the D.C. Council to require the new HPV vaccination on its schedule of required vaccinations. Specifically, the proposal would require sixth-grade girls to receive the vaccination.

Milloy's column suggests the oddity of schools requiring a vaccination for a sexually transmitted disease (as opposed to the already-accepted requirement of vaccinating against diseases like measles and chickenpox, which are transmitted by casual contact and thus can easily spread in schools). He also points out the racial context in which this proposal is being made: two white city officials proposed the bill, which would apply to the city's predominately black school population.

But then Milloy goes further and suggests that the HPV vaccination is dangerous, associating it with the Tuskegee experiment and suggesting to readers that it (and other vaccinations) may cause autism, diabetes and MS.

It's one thing to question the public policy of mandating that girls receive the HPV vaccine. It's another thing entirely to dissuade those parents considering the vaccine by using ridiculous scare tactics.

10 Comments:

Blogger liz said...

Ooh, I missed that one today.

He's such a crackpot.

1:56 PM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger Catherine said...

While I don't agree with his delivery style, the point he makes about women as guinea pigs is valid. Time and again women have suffered the consequences of a rush toward the perfect pill (for this, that, or the other)...Thalidomide...Birth Control Pills...HRT. If I had a daughter, I wouldn't be rushing out to get her this vaccine either. As a government lawyer I would caution my clients to rush to mandate it as well, simply due to the potential for liability if this vaccine does prove to have negative long-term effects.

2:33 PM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger ccw said...

I don't like scare tactics.

However, I am concerned about the possible side effects. Kid L is old enough that she needs to get the vaccine within a year or two. I don't have time to wait with her so despite my reservations, I will be getting her the vaccine series as soon as her insurance starts covering the cost. The respresentative I spoke with said that coverage might begin in the next fiscal year (this October).

10:42 AM, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Oh for crying out loud. I also hate it when people resort to scare tactics to persuade. Why not treat us as if we're intelligent?

The side effects could be an issue I suppose. Luckily I don't have a daughter approaching that age. If I did, I guess the possibility of side effects would have to weighed against the possibility of cervical cancer. That's not a choice I'd want to have to make.

12:05 PM, January 11, 2007  
Anonymous Lawyer Mama said...

Oh for crying out loud. I also hate it when people resort to scare tactics to persuade. Why not treat us as if we're intelligent?

The side effects could be an issue I suppose. Luckily I don't have a daughter approaching that age. If I did, I guess the possibility of side effects would have to weighed against the possibility of cervical cancer. That's not a choice I'd want to have to make.

12:06 PM, January 11, 2007  
Anonymous Lawyer Mama said...

OK, sorry about the repeated posts. Blogger wouldn't let me post and then all of a sudden I look like a stalker!

12:07 PM, January 11, 2007  
Blogger La Turista said...

I have two daughters and am thankful that neither one is old enough to get the vaccine yet. I am not anti-vaccine by any means, but the newness of this one gives me pause. I hope it is the breakthrough it purports to be and that any side effects are minimal. At any rate, I think the Tuskegee experiment analogy is pretty over the top.

12:07 AM, January 12, 2007  
Blogger Keeks said...

Agreed about the scare tactics. Well spoken.

12:23 AM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

My pediatrician specifically spoke to us about this vaccine, and he is concerned because the vaccine has never been tested on girls younger than 16 years old, even though the vaccine is being recommended for all girls in a far broader range of ages. He said that he wouldn't give it to girls less than about 15, unless you know for sure that they are sexually active and then the benefit might outweigh the risk.

I think the article was a little bit exaggerated, but considering that my pediatrician voiced some of the same concerns, not totally unfounded. Apparently, our doc attended a seminar with some of the scientists who worked on the vaccine and asked them whether there were any plans to do testing on younger age groups and there aren't. He views that as severely problematic.

10:14 PM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

I need to make this clear: I don't disagree with what HL and others are saying about the fact that the vaccine is new. All new vaccines should be tested as thoroughly as practicable before being used on the populace. What I disagree with is Milloy's tactic of associating this new vaccine with the Tuskegee experiment and his maligning of all vaccinations, implying that vaccinations cause diabetes, for example. When vaccinations have been tested appropriately, we want parents to have their kids vaccinated. We don't want parents to freak out and refuse to help their kids (and other kids) prevent the spread of disease.

10:33 AM, January 14, 2007  

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