friday roundup

Brent Finnegan -- February 23rd, 2007

Random links and news items from this week…

There have been several stories in the local media about the HPV vaccine this week. It was also reported in the Breeze and the DNR several months ago. Essentially, the issue is this: “A vaccination is now available to prevent HPV, and possibly cervical cancer. However, many parents are concerned about financing it, the safety behind it and having to realize their teenage daughters are sexually active.” Two bills in the GA (HB2035 and SB1230) propose giving the vaccine to sixth-grade girls.

Today Jeff Mellott filed a story reporting on the money that Merck, the creator of the HPV vaccine, has given to politicians (Mark Obenshain being one of them). Obenshain voted for the bill, parting ways with the VFF on this issue. Not surprisingly, the VFF seems to have it’s collective head in the sand when it comes to the issue of teens having sex. For what it’s worth, the poll results on Richmond Sunlight reflect opposition to both of these bills.

In other news…

The New Dominion and the DNR ran stories on the “photo red” bill. This bill allows localities to put cameras at intersections, which take pictures of the license plates of red light runners. I emailed the city about this on February 7th. At that point I was told that there was no talk of traffic cameras in H’burg. According to the DNR, Mayor Eagle said the council will look into it.

Moving on…

Yesterday, the same day that Russ Potts announced his “retirement” from the Senate, Emmett Hanger responded to GOP criticisms and the Sayre challenge in The Hook, saying he knew his positions on tax reform would “put a target on my head,” [but] he admits he’s surprised by the challenge from within his own party. “It’s somewhat ironic,” he says. “I’m one of the leading spokespersons on pro-life issues; I’ve always had a 100 percent rating from the Christian Coalition; I’m regarded as the go-to guy for the NRA.”

…And they’re saying this guy is not conservative enough?

Yesterday WeWillRockDem and the DNR covered the transportation meeting at BHS featuring Scott Kasprowicz, Virginia deputy secretary of transportation.

In non-news-related links, I also stumbled upon this post by former H’burg resident, Nick Faber. He mentions the old Spanky’s on Water Street (a building that has sadly been vacant for a very long time) and includes a link to a Roanoke Times feature about the downfall of Spanky’s.


19 Responses to “friday roundup”

  1. writergirl says:

    This HPV stuff is really starting to aggravate me! In a perfect world, no person would have sex until they were married and I’m all for teaching abstinence. However, the reality is, even if you teach your child to save themselves for marriage, you can’t guarantee that they will. If you have the opportunity to prevent cancer with a simple round of shots, why wouldn’t you do it? I’ve heard the argument that it hasn’t been tested enough and we don’t know what will happen to those given the shot or how long it will last. There have been other vaccines that we weren’t sure about, we still gave them, and they’ve saved lives. This vaccine has been in development for years, it’s not just something brand new. I’ve talked to people who have had procedures to remove precancerous cells from their cervix and it is not something I’d ever want to put someone through.

    I doubt too many 6th grade girls are even going to fully understand what the shot is for. My kids aren’t that old yet but they don’t ask my what the shots they get are for, they just know that they are to keep them healthy. It’s NOT going to cause children to be any more promiscuous than already are; that’s absurd.

    I’ve had the first two rounds of this vaccine and will have the third in a few months. They were $130 each and my insurance paid for them. I’ve had no problems or side effects. I did not ask for the vax, my doctor recommended it. He told me that it is good for the three forms most likely to cause cancer and since there was no way to know which if any I had been exposed too, there was no reason not to get the shots.If it were available for boys to prevent them from carrying it, I would have my boys vaccinated.

  2. finnegan says:

    I would probably tend to agree with you on this, writergirl. Of course, I don’t have kids, so I guess you could say I “don’t have a horse in this race.” If I did have kids, I would want them to get vaccinated.

    But there are also two conflicting political forces at play here: conservative political action groups like the VFF who oppose the bills, and corporate money interests (Merck) which would benefit by the passage of the bills. If I had to guess, I’d bet that these bills become law. As long as there are opt-out clauses, I don’t see the big deal.

  3. writergirl says:

    You are right Finnegan. I think there should be an opt out clause and then there is no issue. I just can’t believe it’s an issue for the VFF (well, I can).

    As for the MERCK issue…since my ex husband works there, I kind of need them to do well! So maybe that makes me too bias. ;)

  4. cook says:

    The bill has been amended to allow an opt out for parents, but – don’t be deceived – it is very easy to remove the opt out clause a few years down the road.

    There are so many things wrong with mandating the HPV vaccine. The biggest, of course, is that HPV is entirely avoidable. The government should not be able to require individuals to accept the risks of vaccination where the disease is not spread by casual contact and does not result in almost certain illness.

    Then there is the fact that the vaccine has not been proven over time.

    And the fact that the legislature has been bought on this issue should cause concern.

    If this vaccine is indeed so great and so necessary, the market will see that its use will become widespread and almost universal. But that would require Merck to educate and convince the physicians and the public while besting its competitors — a lot more expensive than buying the General Assembly (which from the articles you cite appears to be rather cheap).

  5. writergirl says:

    I suppose you are right Cook, it is entirely avoidable. I guess the government really doesn’t have the right to make us vaccinate our child for something they can’t get through casual contact.

    I would think that making it mandatory would save us a lot of cost in medical care over time though. Thinking about the number of children who are uninsured. I think it would be more cost effective to pay for their shots now as opposed to paying for their cancer later.

    Its a tough call I guess. Personally I just can’t imagine someone not wanting their child to get it (unless of course they are allergic to something in it). I guess its not about wanting them to have it, and more about being forced to get it for them right?

  6. finnegan says:

    You’re right, $1,000 is a steal! From TV3 on Jan 29:

    Governor Tim Kaine announced last month that Merck is investing 57 Million dollars to expand the role its Elkton, Virginia facility plays in producing Gardasil.

    The Baltimore Sun reports Merck has lobbyists across the country and is getting help from an organization representing female lawmakers that gets corporate donations from Merck. But the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical experts are wary of a vaccination requirement.

    They favor a go slow approach that includes raising public awareness about hpv and continued safety monitoring for the vaccine.

    But on the other hand, it’s wishful thinking to believe that all kids will remain true to their parent’s teaching, and “save themselves for marriage.” That’s just not reality for a vast number of teens.

  7. cook says:

    The issue ought to be about the role of government in our lives. That is, how much power should the few exercise over the many. For Americans, freedom so-called has always been about minimizing the amount of power a few can exercise over the rest of us. But now, it seems, every good idea becomes a law — where does it stop? Just because something is worthwhile doesn’t mean that those in power ought to make everyone else do it.

  8. Nick Faber says:

    Thanks for the link. I miss Spanky’s.

    I hear the Downtown Renaissance is starting to really take shape. I’ll have to come back to the ‘burg soon and check it out.

    Nick Faber

  9. unclefrank22801 says:

    Cook, you make aa good point about government over watching. they already have a helmet law in the majority of states, and why is that/ So we, the non-motorcycle public, don’t have to pay the costs of head injuries of the un-helmeted.
    As far as the vaccine, I have 3 daughters; 13, 17 and 20. The youngest has already asked about the truth if it really does stop a certain cancer. She is willing to get the shots if we find out all is OK, which SO FAR it seems to be. Like the article in the DNR stated, “if we waited to see just how long a vaccine lasted, we would still be waiting to administer most”…something alog that line.
    The other 2 daughters are enlisted int he military and are offered the shots thru the military. Both don’t seem to mind if they can prevent ANY form of cancer as well. But, with the oldest in Iraq right now, I don’t think the vaccine is available until she gets back state-side.

    Thanks for the open-ness, this is a pretty cool way to communicate.


  10. Reaganite says:

    My friend Cook is right that we and our legislators should always be concerned with the preservation of individual and national freedom. Further, freedom is usually best maintained by empowering and trusting market forces. However, the unfettered market is not always the answer. As an extreme example, there is a “market” for national defense but only the ideologically pure libertarian would argue for the abolition of our national army and the rise of privately funded protective forces. In the HPV vaccine regard, the market for information as to the availability and utility of the vaccine is not perfect. It probably works well for those of us that are better off and see doctors regularly. It probably works not at all for the poorest among us who have no regular doctor and have the least opportunity to learn of the vaccine.

    While I would prefer the GA provide the vaccine as an opt-in option, I do not believe we lose too much liberty from the opt-out provision. It is useful for all to be reminded that our legislators tend to reach for more power over time as we voters become complacent; so, let us remember to keep watch on this issue in the future to assure that opt-out doesn’t evolve into mandatory when it is not necessary to public health and safety.

  11. cook says:

    Pardner, you might want to change yer handle.

  12. Reaganite says:

    Oh no, I have it right. Just ask Big Wheel!

  13. finnegan says:

    One more thing I forgot to add to the roundup (thanks to John L for reminding me) Obenshain’s “Gemeinschaft bill” passed this week.

  14. dave says:

    I miss the ‘burg, and Spanky’s too. Many of my irresponsible friends used to work there. I too will have to make a pilgrimage, get me some Kline’s and a dog over at Jess’s.

  15. ktr001 says:

    In the not too distant past, Merck got sued over their drug Vioxx, which (correct me if I’m wrong) caused the death of some of its users. I’m curious if the families of these people would have said, no, suffer in pain because you don’t know what this drug may do to you, or would have tried anything the doctor prescribed their family member to ease their pain. I’m betting they would have taken the drug. The fact is, putting chemicals of any kind in our body alters the way we function and has a plethora of potential side effects — but we make the decision to take them or not to take them. I agree with Cook when he said we don’t know the long term effects of this drug they want to inject little girls with and I couldn’t imagine injecting my kid with something that might cause them something worse than cancer in a few years. How about we teach them to use condoms and that regular doctors visits are a must? Our society is becoming irresponsible because drug after drug is being invented to cure all of our ills! In ten years, we could have an epidemic of people dying due to the side effects of this vaccine for all we know. It infuriates me to think of how pharmaceutical companies are marketing off of the fear they instill in Americans — take our drugs or suffer.

    Also, I miss Spanky’s terribly…I think my name is carved into about 10 different booths.

  16. writergirl says:

    Well my ex-husband and his father both work at MERCK. Their grandmother/mother died because of Vioxx and they never thought of suing. Not because they work there, but because you really never do know what a drug may do in your body. I did not get this vax out of fear. I did it because I have two small children and if I can prevent cancer with a simple shot, I’m going to try it. How long do you wait to see if something works before you use it? When I am 90 and I have had no side effects, is that enough time? How many lives could have been saved in the mean time? Sure, responsible sex is a much better prevention. But all it takes is one time just like any other STD. If your daughter is a virgin at marriage but her partner has had sex with one other person then she is at risk. Personally, from talking to people on the other side of this, the people who do the testing for HPV and have known about this vax’s potential for years, it is worth the risk to me. Sure there is money and politics involved, but there are also lives involved as well. It’s not all about fear and money. If someone came out with an AIDS vax tomorrow would it be worth the potential risk? For me it would be. For some, maybe not and that’s why it should be a choice. It’s not even a question for me…if I had girls, they’d have it.

    As for Spanky’s we all miss it. But sadly, its been/being gutted so if you had your name carved there, its long gone or soon will be. I hope something interesting comes there.

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