February 11, 2007
The Honorable Rick Perry
Dear Gov. Perry:
The undersigned organizations are writing to ask you to reconsider your position mandating the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted disease, for schoolgirls as young as 10 years old.
Your action has prompted a broad, non-partisan coalition of advocacy groups to come together under the umbrella of the “Hands Off Our Kids Coalition.” This ad hoc coalition includes medical, taxpayer, privacy, civil liberties, health freedom, and good government groups from both sides of the aisles. While each group has various reasons for concern, our objectives can be summarized as follows:
- This vaccine mandate violates parental rights, informed consent & privacy;
- The efficacy and safety of this specific vaccine are unproven;
- It is an unjustified expansion of the taxpayers’ burden;
- It constitutes an unwarranted overreaching of executive power, and
- It violates sunshine-in-government.
1. PARENTAL RIGHTS, INFORMED CONSENT & PRIVACY VIOLATIONS
According to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons statement of Patients’ Freedoms adopted in 1990,
”Patients have the freedom … to refuse medical treatment even if it is recommended by their physician and to be informed about their medical condition, the risks and benefits of treatment, and appropriate alternatives.”
That means that parents, with the advice of their doctors, should make decisions about their children’s medical care — not government bureaucrats, whether school board members, or public health administrators. It is wrong for governments to interfere with parental rights because they disagree with the way parents care for the health of their children.
You state that this action does not interfere with parental rights, but preserves them by allowing parents to “opt out” of the mandate. Why should parents have to ask the state’s permission to make this decision? And why should that decision then become a matter of public record? There is potential for massive privacy violations applying to every female child in Texas, for which there is no public health emergent need.
2. HPV EFFICACY & SAFETY VACCINE IS UNPROVEN
The safety of this vaccine for children and its life long efficacy as a cancer preventive for this population are unproven. While shown effective in preventing genital warts in adults, clinical trials were conducted on fewer than 2,000 of the target population of girls aged 9 to 15 years old. The studies were far too short to demonstrate that the vaccine prevents the HPV transforming into cancer. Further, since the duration of the protection is estimated at 5 to 7 years, it would wane about the time that some of these girls are becoming sexually active.
The adverse effects of this vaccine must be considered. According to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), the federal Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System (VAERS) is now receiving reports of loss of consciousness, seizures, and neurological disorders such as loss of vision, slurred speech, numbness and tingling following administration of the vaccine in the few months since its approval last June.
3. OVERREACHING EXECUTIVE POWERS
Senator Jane Nelson, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, recently stated: "Executive orders should be used in extreme circumstances, during times of emergency and when the Legislature is not in session.”
As Sen. Nelson also pointed out, this was not an emergency, and the legislative had pending bills to examine the HPV vaccine that would have produced public input and cost estimates. There is no public health crisis regarding HPV – it cannot be “caught” sitting in class next to someone shedding the virus. In fact, the cervical rates have been consistently declining. It would seem that you have shut the public and the legislature out of the process for reasons that are difficult to justify.
4. UNJUSTIFIED COST BURDEN
The HPV vaccine is one of the most expensive ever to come to market, and is backed by a multi-million dollar direct-to-consumer advertising campaign. The NVIC’s survey of practices showed private practice fees ranging from $525 to $930 per child. According to Sen. Nelson, the minimum taxpayer cost will be more than $300 million through the Texas Medicaid program alone. Plus, since it would not eliminate the need for Pap smears, there would be no costs savings for that test.
We agree with Sen. Nelson’s concern about the process that has been invoked with this policy. At its best, the vaccine approval and policy process is rife with conflicts-of-interest, as demonstrated during several Congressional hearings, and a Congressional report that concluded that the pharmaceutical industry has indeed exerted undue influence on mandatory vaccine legislation toward its own financial interests. Given the huge amounts of money at stake for this vaccine, there are many unanswered questions about any undue influence.
Therefore, we urge that you take the following action:
- Immediately rescind Executive Order RP65;
- Work with legislators to pass legislation that would return the authority to enact vaccine policy to the elected representatives, rather than unelected heads of agencies such as public health departments, and to educate parents about exemptions available.
- Allocate no taxpayer funds towards this specific vaccine;
- If you choose to go forward with your Executive Order, you and all parties involved voluntarily make full disclosure of financial interests, meetings, and negotiations that took place leading up to issuance of the Order.
Vaccines can and do save lives, and it is our hope that this will not be misconstrued as a blanket indictment of immunizations.
But this episode has demonstrated that we must take a much more deliberative approach in crafting vaccine policy without sacrificing the rights and liberties of individuals and families, and that the State of Texas should consider carefully any new vaccine mandates.
The “Hands Off Our Kids” coalition members urge you to take these steps immediately to restore parental rights, children’s civil liberties, and confidence in the legislative process.
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
American Academy of Environmental Medicine
Ron Paul, M.D. – Member of Congress, Lake Jackson, TX
Bob Barr, former Member of Congress, and Chairman and CEO of Liberty Strategies
Patient Privacy Rights – Deborah C. Peel, MD, Founder and Chair, Austin, TX
Liberty Coalition – Michael Ostrolenk, National Director
Charlotte Twight, Ph.D., Adjunct Fellow, Independent Institute
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste – Thomas Schatz, President
American Association of Small Property Owners – F. Patricia Callahan, President
Texas Legal Foundation – David Rogers, Policy Director
Bob Bagley, Chairman, Montgomery County Texas Republican Liberty Caucus
Pain Relief Network – Siobhan Reynolds, President and Executive Director
Vaccine Injury Prevention – Virginia K. Young
U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation
Alliance for Human Research Protection
Citizen Outreach – Chuck Muth, President
Texas Eagle Forum – Cathie Adams, President
United for Life – Dr. Ronald Konopaski
Eagle Forum – Phyllis Schlafly, President & Founder
PROVE / VaccineInfo.net – Dawn Richardson, President and Co-founder
Frontiers of Freedom – Kerri Houston, Vice President of Policy
United Republican Fund – Dennis LaComb, Executive Director
National Vaccine Information Center – Barbara Loe Fisher, President
EdWatch – Karen R. Effrem, MD, member Board of Directors
Tony B. Rich, President and Chief Executive Officer, IdeasOne Incorporated
Children of God for Life – Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director Minnesota Natural Health Legal Reform Project – Jerri Johnson
Illinois Right to Life Committee – William Beckman, Executive Director
Illinois Alliance for Parents and Children – Michael Burns, President
IllinoisReview.com – Fran Eaton, Editor
FairfaxCountyPrivacyCouncil.org – Mike Stollenwerk
The Multiracial Activist – James Landrith, Founder
RightMarch.com – William Greene, President
Illinois Family Institute – David E Smith, Executive Director
Juliette Madrigal Dersch, M.D., Marble Falls, TX
William M. Chop Jr. MD, Associate Professor, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School
James H. Vernier, M.D., Fredericksburg, TX
Gary Edd Fish, M.D., J.D., Dallas, TX
James J. Szabo, M.D., Abilene, TX
Gregory A. Tichenor, M.D., FACEP, Southlake, TX
Clayton Young, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., The Woodlands, TX
David S. Wishnew, M.D. – Austin, TX
Andrew W. Campbell, M.D. – Spring, TX
John Hatridge, M.D. – Austin, TX
Mark Olmstead, D.O. – Garland, TX
Jeffrey Warber D.C., M.D – El Paso, TX
Peter Curka, D.O. – Houston, TX
Marra S. Francis, MD – The Woodlands, TX
Rick K. Wilson M.D. – Plano, TX
Leslie H. Parks, DO, FACOOG
Jill Stanek, Prolife activist & World Net Daily columnist, Mokena, IL
Robert Goodman, Pasadena, TX
Grace Taylor, Paris, TX
Sue Stodghill, Deer Trail, CO
John and Amy Yates, Caldwell, TX
Dottie Bourassa, Seabrook, TX
Treon Goossen, Florissant, CO
Larry & Donna Schlabach, Brenham, TX
Carolyn Baker, Mesilla Park, NM
Michelle Beurlot, Houston, TX
Bill & Rachel Stevens, Colorado Springs, CO
Larry and Fran Rutherford, Black Forest, CO
Allan Paris family, Colorado
Carla Perez, Castle Rock, CO
Lisa Oguin, Colorado Springs, CO