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Dr. Harper (Photo courtesy of Underground Health)

In 2006 or 2007, I believe, Rick Perry attempted to use executive action to force all girls in Texas age 11-12 to get this vaccine. My daughter was 11. I spent a considerable amount of time researching the details of the vaccine, and was alarmed by several things:

  • Gardasil was developed by Merck, the same folks who developed Vioxx, an analgesic and anti-inflammatory that was shown to have caused heart attacks in people during clinical trials and after it was released to the public. It later turned out that Merck deliberately suppressed that information prior to FDA approval. They lied about killing people, in other words.
  • Merck has spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying for the adoption of this vaccine in various states, and spent heavily in Texas with state legislators and Rick Perry as well. Rick Perry (if memory serves) received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Merck.
  • There were at the time no longitudinal studies showing either the positive effects or negative side-effects of the vaccine. Texas’ 11-12 year old girls were to be used as experimental guinea pigs, in other words. At this point, we are starting to see the negative side-effects, and while the positive benefits are undeniable, they are not at the absurd rates that Merck promoted at the time.

Given this, I absolutely did not let Rick Perry and Merck use my daughter–who already has various neurological issues that could possibly be exacerbated by an experimental vaccine–as a test subject. Unfortunately, the excuse that a lot of Texas parents used at the time was that giving them this vaccine was equivalent to “promoting sex”, and absurd stand. But what that meant was that people like myself, who objected to the vaccine on medical grounds and based on reasonable suspicion of the production company, were lumped in with a lot of religious extremist idiots and declared nuts.

I have no doubt–none at all–that there will be a concerted effort by the medical community, Merck, and various political fellow travelers who want to protect Merck’s profit margins, to discredit this researcher. “She’s just one doctor”; “the benefits to women’s health vastly outweigh the possible risks”; “Research has shown this vaccine to be safer than [fill in with innocuous substance–aspirin is typical]”; etc. I wouldn’t be surprised to read in a few weeks or months how Dr. Harper lost her job, her accreditation, and her standing in the medical community–whistleblowing is *always* severely punished. (See Manning, Bradley.)

Now, there are reasonable responses to my arguments above (and I’ve heard a bunch of them).  I think that’s fine; let’s have a reasonable, data-driven discourse.  I am not an anti-vaccine nut; I think vaccines overall have done more to improve the health of people than almost anything in the history of the planet. But I wish we were in a place were suspicion of a giant drug company’s motives, and the motives of the politicians who support them and their profits, were not automatically dismissed as “anti-vaccine crazies” or “religious nuts”, or whatever. As Dr. Harper’s statements show, there are actual, valid reasons to be suspicious of drug makers’ claims of effectiveness and safety that have nothing to do with politics. Here’s hoping that we all have the freedom to question these claims in the future.