The attack on Rick Perry for his 2007 executive order mandating the HPV vaccine for sixth grade Texas girls is wrongheaded.
First and generally speaking, vaccines are a tremendous public health achievement and boon. The global anti-vaccine movement is junk science-based.
Next, HPV seems to be associated with an awful lot (90%) of cervical cancers. Though we don’t know whether and how HPV actually causes cervical cancer, it seems like a pretty good place to start combatting it. According to the CDC,
Among women who had not been previously exposed to a targeted HPV type, the clinical trials demonstrated 93% vaccine efficacy in preventing cervical precancers due to HPV 16 or 18.
That’s a pretty compelling case for vaccinating adolescent girls, particularly since the vaccine is safe and its side effects are minimal.
Finally, preventing the transmission of deadly infectious disease is a legitimate government activity. A minimally intrusive approach — i.e., a vaccine with few if any side effects, is a no-brainer.
What Rick Perry did was to act in the best interests of public health. Contrast Perry with Barack Obama who is a menace to the American standard of living and, thereby, public health.
While it is fair to debate Perry’s actions, he’s not the problem; Obama is. Americans need to maintain that focus.
The goal in 2012 is not to elect Perry or Mitt Romney or Michelle Bachmann or any other particular GOP candidate per se so much as it is about not re-electing Obama.