William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Rhode Island Mandates HPV Vaccine, Tells Parents, “We’re The Government And Can Do What We Like”

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I’m not sure what it is with lawmakers. Are they only interested in increasing control over citizens’ lives? Or is it that in combination with ignorance?

Let the Boston Globe tell it:

Seventh-graders in Rhode Island started school this year under a new mandate rarely seen in the country: Girls and boys must be vaccinated against HPV — the human papillomavirus — a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cancer.

The move sparked protests from parents, who resented a school requirement to immunize against a disease that spreads through sex rather than anything that could be transmitted in the classroom.

Despite the uproar, public health officials in Massachusetts are watching Rhode Island’s move. If it succeeds, Massachusetts may want to take the same route to boost the use of a vaccine that has long been a hard sell, said Kevin Cranston, director of the state’s Bureau of Infectious Disease.

“We’re going to be very intrigued by the Rhode Island mandate experience,” Cranston said.

In other words, Cranston wants to see if he can get away with it, too.

Listen closely, nervous lawmakers. If your kids are vaccinated against HPV, and the vaccine was effective, which it almost always is, then it does not matter if the kid next to yours are not vaccinated. Your kid can’t be infected.

There is thus no reason to mandate a vaccine.

HPV is spread by sexual transmission. Having the HPV vaccine is thus a little like putting helmets and pads on (American) football players. It encourages those players to hit a little harder, to take more risks. Same thing with the vaccine. It will encourage some—not all—kids to have underage immoral out-of-wedlock sexual intercourse whereas without the vaccine they would not have. The vaccine will encourage some—not all—kids to have unprotected sexual encounters, whereas without the vaccine they would not have.

The HPV vaccine is thus not like the one against polio, which can be caught any old way, regardless of behavior. HPV can only be caught doing what is wrong. Many parents like the idea of being in charge of their children’s notions of right and wrong. The government has here usurped the parental role.

And here’s another case of cronyism. Merck, the makers of Gardasil, are richer than individual parents, and therefore possessing more access to lawmakers, and so will encourage the passing of these needless laws. And not out of altruism. You don’t have to believe me. Back to the Boston Globe:

In 2006, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the vaccine for 11- and 12-year-old girls, as three doses given six months apart. (Boys were added in 2009.) But when Texas Governor Rick Perry required HPV vaccination for girls entering middle school, the state Legislature overturned it — after it was revealed that Gardasil’s manufacturer had contributed to Perry’s reelection campaign and lobbied legislators.

How much Merck gave to Rhode Island personages is unknown. Anybody want to bet it’s zero?

Side effects. Are there any? Hey. What are you, some sort of tin-foil-hat wearing weirdo? If there were side effects, would our beneficent government mandate the vaccination? Wee p-values have proven the vaccine’s effectiveness!

Lastly, control. The government is staffed, it tells us, by experts, many with advanced degrees. They have studied child rearing, whereas you, the parent, are a educational novice. How dare you think you can raise your child better than government experts?

Just what argument do you have that rebuts raw power? The government first mandates all children must be in government schools, or some school, then mandates your child must have this unnecessary vaccine. Your hope is to home school. But just wait: once that movement gains enough momentum, the government will step in here, too. Regulate, regulate, regulate.

It’s time for a change.

32 Comments

  1. After strenuous protests, the State backed off the mandate and made the immunizations voluntary.

    FWIW, RI is the most Roman Catholic state in the nation, has been dominated by the Democrat Party since 1937, is heavily influenced by public sector unions (mostly teachers, police, and fire). Regularly sends politicians to jail (although not enough of them to make a difference) — the latest case being the Speaker of the House of Representatives who spent campaign funds illegally on personal expenses. If it weren’t for the people in control, it would be a delightful place to live.

  2. Briggs

    September 9, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Gary,

    Thanks for the update. Have you a link for the “backing off”?

  3. Homeschooling will be gone in a very short time. The more kids in government schools the easier the indoctrination. Free college will add at least 4 more years to the indoctrination. Your children are no longer yours—now, are you going to do anything about it? I doubt it, I doubt it very much.

    If you look at the statistics: “Based on data from 2006 to 2010, about 33,200 HPV-associated cancers occur in the United States each year: about 20,600 among females, and about 12,600 among males. Cervical cancer is the most common HPV-associated cancer among women, and oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) are the most common among men.” (from the CDC)
    So the government is mandating children be vaccinated for diseases that occur 33,200 times per year in a population of 321,000,000. So the odds of getting the disease is about the same as dying in a car accident. HPV is spread by sex, so not having sex with an infected person can prevent the disease. You can walk everywhere to avoid car accidents. Of course, these statistics are only useful if you want to outlaw cars or point out that life is dangerous no matter what laws you pass.

  4. It’s time for a change.

    Where have we heard that before?

    If you like your government, you can keep your government
    If not, oh well…

  5. I don’t even like this HPV/cancer association. They never really came up with a mechanism; I think irritation was mentioned, but it seemed more like some enterprising researcher realized he could get more money if he mention cancer.
    The research went from HPV could cause cancer, to HPV does cause cancer really fast- meanwhile, it could well be the lifestyle and factors there of.

  6. Briggs, I recall a tv news item last week stating this, but apparently a rescinding isn’t official. There’s an exemption form that can be access from this link – http://www.golocalprov.com/news/ri-center-for-freedom-prosperity-calls-for-end-to-hpv-mandate

    TPTB just may let the objectors slide (an old RI tactic if you know how to work it). Citizens’ groups are organizing and school committees are making noises. http://www.thevaccinereaction.org/2015/08/uprising-against-hpv-vaccine-mandate-sweeps-rhode-island/

    Unfortunately, this power grab will give the anti-vax groups some ammunition to spread disinformation about the huge benefit of immunizations for infectious diseases.

  7. August Hurtel,

    Indeed. As Sheri pointed out, there is 0.01% incident rate of HPV-associated cancer. IOW: the likelihood of NOT getting the cancer is 99.99% even if a definite causal link could be established. A clear case of epidemiology run amok.

    If your kids are vaccinated against HPV … then it does not matter if the kid next to yours are not vaccinated. Your kid can’t be infected.

    The same argument has been used against MMR vaccination requirements often answered with “But what about the herd immunity?” — a silly response.

    While it may be a good idea to get vaccinated (in the HPV case, maybe just a paranoid idea), it’s NEVER a good idea to mandate or require.

  8. Students about to be so assaulted and violated, should seize the syringe and shove it through the throat of the brownshirt.

    If complaints arise, they should say that it’s a mandatory vaccine against tyrannous asshattery. Sounds like a clear-cut case of self defense to me.

  9. The homeschooling regulations aren’t too heavy in RI — just file with the local system superintendent to avoid violating the truancy law, supply brief quarterly reports of attendance and progress, and cover the standard subjects. No need for a special exemption as in PA (I was asked to write a character reference for friends who were claiming a religious exemption to homeschool there). There are two homeschooling associations in RI as well as a national organization to provide assistance and resources. Public school systems even loan textbooks for families that wish to follow their curriculum. Every summer there is a homeschooling convention in southern New England that provides a wealth of information. The effort is alive and well and not going away soon.

  10. Gary: The effort is alive and well and not going away soon.

    With Common Core, I see even more interest…

    Has Briggs done any Common Core posts?

  11. I’m not sure I see anything wrong with the Rhode Island legislation, given an option to be exempt for religious reasons. The argument that taking the vaccine will induce promiscuity is, I believe, fallacious. What 18 year old will hark back, in a situation of sexual tension, to the fact that he/she has been vaccinated and therefore he/she will be immune to one of many STD’s? And if there is a link, even tenuous, of Herpes to cancer, why not try to prevent that? In short, show me the harm such a vaccination might do.

  12. show me the harm such a vaccination might do.

    Outside of the erosion of personal liberty and responsibility?

  13. Bob K, it’s just one more adult taking out a needle and telling my twelve-year old daughter, “we expect you to have sexual intercourse [and if you don’t you’re kind of a loser].”

  14. Bob K, the mandate was sprung on parents by the Health Dept. overlords late this summer without much acknowledgement of the exemption. Only when the squawking started was it advertised as an option.

  15. Briggs,

    “How much Merck gave to Rhode Island personages is unknown. Anybody want to bet it’s zero?”

    Engaging in genetic fallacy here. Financing only matters when it applies to others.

    “Same thing with the vaccine. It will encourage some—not all—kids to have underage immoral out-of-wedlock sexual intercourse whereas without the vaccine they would not have. The vaccine will encourage some—not all—kids to have unprotected sexual encounters, whereas without the vaccine they would not have.”

    There is no vaccine against HIV-AIDS yet people continue to have unprotected sex. Vaccines against HPV would mostly have no impact on the issue other than reducing HPV risk.

    Last year there were several epidemic of previously eradicated desease because parents were smart enough to not have their kids vaccinated.

  16. “acricketchirps
    SEPTEMBER 9, 2015 AT 3:35 PM
    Bob K, it’s just one more adult … telling my twelve-year old daughter, “we expect you to have sexual intercourse [and if you don’t you’re kind of a loser].”

    Well don’t take you kid to Catholic School.

  17. DAV, let me respond to the comment “outside of the erosion of personal liberty and responsibility”. Other types of vaccinations are required (it’s been a while since our kids went to school): diphtheria, polio, smallpox, ???. And it’s not only the child that’s not vaccinated against a contagious disease that is affected, it’s the others to whom he/she may transmit the disease. Thus it’s not a question of purely personal liberty and freedom (and if there is the option of religious exemption, that can be taken into account), but the question of effecting others. We have DUI laws not only to keep the driver safe, but also for the safety of others he might hurt in an accident.
    With respect to opening the floodgates of immoral behavior by allowing HPV vaccinations–really? That is training the child to behave morally by threat of punishment, rather than trying to instill positive moral values. The threat of Hell has been no more an effective deterrent to sin than the goal of heaven has been for good behavior.

  18. This is not dissimilar in principle to mandatory seat belt laws. If you don’t wear a sit belt the immediate repercussion is that you do more serious injury to yourself or die. Passengers in other vehicles aren’t affected by your personal choices in this case. On the other hand, there is a cost to society in the sense that if your injurious are more grievous, your recklessness has cost the community in terms of increased medical costs for your care. Possibly even that you may require a disability pension, payments of which might otherwise have been avoided. My libertarian sympathies incline me to argue that such vaccinations should be voluntary, but on the other hand one has to acknowledge there exists a reasonable counter argument.

  19. Other types of vaccinations are required (it’s been a while since our kids went to school): diphtheria, polio, smallpox, ???

    Which really only protected those vaccinated. Just because you have immunity doesn’t mean you can’t carry the disease. And smallpox vaccinations are actually discouraged except for unusual circumstances because the risks of vaccination outweigh the benefits. In fact, its’s hard to get the vaccine.

    http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/smallpox/vaccination/faq.asp

    However, putting that aside, the diseases you listed are transmitted by neighborly contact without necessarily any touching involved. Maybe there is a case for mandating these but really it boils down to expecting someone else to protect you. If you’re really worried then protect yourself. If others don’t, so what?

    But the subject here involves sexually transmitted diseases. HPV has to be actively transmitted, As the Chirping Cricket said: “we expect you to have sexual intercourse [and if you don’t you’re kind of a loser].” Still, for some reason, you don’t think getting the word out is sufficient?

    The threat of cancer from HPV is extremely low ( less than 0.01% chance even if you contract the supposed trigger disease) and is the ONLY justification for the vaccination. It’s protection against a quite rare event. You are saying one shouldn’t be allowed to decide for oneself if the risk is worth the effort and expense of vaccination not to mention any potential risks associated with the vaccination itself because it’s for your own good and all that. You don’t see the arrogance in this?

    I’m curious. Are you yourself vaccinated against HPV and, if not, do you avoid going out in public? Also, if not, why shouldn’t you be mandated to do so?

    Your argument basically says that if they can do it for one thing then doing it for anything else must be OK. You don’t see the slippery slope in this argument even now when it’s being applied to extremely an low risk? What’s next?

  20. On the other hand, there is a cost to society in the sense that if your injurious are more grievous, your recklessness has cost the community in terms of increased medical costs for your care.

    Only if others are paying you bills and whose fault is that?

  21. RE: “I’m not sure what it is with lawmakers. Are they only interested in increasing control over citizens’ lives? Or is it that in combination with ignorance?”

    What is it about statisticians that, while knowing how to analyze data ignore all their training & resort to hyper-generalizations & emotional philosophy detached from real-world objectivity?

    There’s ample legal precedent, and, reasonably objective data to put the situation in perspective; here’s a sampling:

    State-mandated vaccination IS Constitutional:
    NICOLE PHILLIPS, DINA CHECK, FABIAN MENDOZA?VACA v. CITY OF NEW YORK, ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, DR. NIRAV R. SHAH, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; Aug 2014 (This ruling is only binding within the context of public education; nothing prevents the parents from homeschooling their children and keeping them vaccination-free). See:
    http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/84d7dac2-91c8-45f8-bded-9c8a795c6381/1/doc/14-2156_opn.pdf#xml=http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/84d7dac2-91c8-45f8-bded-9c8a795c6381/1/hilite/ ;
    The Aug 2014 case cited:
    Prince v. Massachusetts (1944), and,
    Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905).

    The reality is, state-mandated vaccination (and other intrusions) have been established as Constitutional for much longer than anyone reading this blog has been alive. It’s a quaint notion to think that recent mandates for vaccination reflects a recent & burgeoning socialistic intrusion into basic freedoms…but as the legal history shows, that just ain’t so. This ought to have been noted when “Obama-care” was declared Constitutional, along with the mandate to buy or pay a penalty/tax – the case underpinning that US Supreme Court decision was/is Wickard v. Filburn, from 1942.

    AND THE HEALTH CARE IMPLICATIONS ARE ALSO SIGNIFICANT: Some 10 percent of the 15-24 age group and about five percent of women of all ages (N. America) have an STD/HPV at any given time. Objective analysis compares the cost to society to vaccinate vs. the costs from complications from the STD. Anybody see any such objective analysis around here??

    Per CDC, adolescents get it on quite a bit: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/ Quote: “Nearly half of the 20 million new STDs each year were among young people, between the ages of 15 to 24.” Based on U.S. census data, that works out to about ten percent of this demographic group having a STD at any given time. And do you, parents, really believe you can control them so much they can’t/won’t maintain this one-out-of-ten (consider how many single-parent households there are)!?!?

    Other studies put the prevalence in North America at about five percent overall (all women, all ages): “Cervical Human Papillomavirus Prevalence in 5 Continents: Meta-Analysis of 1 Million Women with Normal Cytological Findings,” by Laia Bruni, Mireia Diaz, Mireia Castellsagué, Elena Ferrer, F. Xavier Bosch and Silvia de Sanjosé — http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/202/12/1789.full.

    A continuous prevalence of between five & 10 percent (depending on the demographic group affected) seems rather significant in terms of the social health care burden no matter how the data is evaluated.

    All of which just goes to show how great the internet is – one can find & pounce on whatever ideal one likes and cognitively snuggle on-line with the like-minded while blissfully ignorant of relevant facts that challenge the comfy make-believe.

    If such Federal/State intrusions into one’s personal freedom are bothersome to you (hopefully), blather such as this blog do nothing whatsoever. In contrast, persuading your elected representatives to re-consider key judicial & legislative precedents can, if/when successful, have a profound effect (e.g., get Wickard v Filburn overturned – and there are groups endeavoring to do this, likely requiring a change in the make-up of the Supreme Court – and suddenly “Obama-care” becomes illegal). Philosophy won’t get anyone anywhere when laws & legislation need to be identified and changed.

  22. “Only if others are paying you bills and whose fault is that?”

    Others will be paying your bills because you’ll be taken to emergency, and they don’t ask for your credit card there. If you end up disabled, you will be paid a disability pension in perpetuity (well until you die) by the community.

    Keep in mind this is not payment by the State. The State doesn’t pay for anything. It has no money of its own. It takes money from certain members of the community and transfers that to other members of the community, typically in the form of benefits and services.

    Although I agree completely with the sentiment that a cost-benefit has to be done. If risks are very low, it seems unreasonable to try to protect everyone from every conceivable harm that might befall us.

  23. The key part of my question was “whose fault is that?”. Charity carries the right to dictate all sorts of things apparently. A right of ownership so to speak.

  24. In this case one could reasonably argue that the moral concern is secondary to ignoring the pragmatic consequences. So it may be a key part of your question but it’s not necessarily the key issue for others.

  25. Yeah, it’s totally wrong for the government to tell you who you can’t have sex with, but THIS is totally okay!

  26. See comment by
    Diane Taylor (Mrs) (M.Phil)
    on previous post

    A major reason for poor education results is poor education starting at primary school level. Obsession with schoolchildren’s reproductive health has led to unhealthy focus on health. Matters that are the concern of parents have been usurped and parents have been persuaded to relinquish their own responsibilities.
    Parents must take back control and have more confidence in their abilities to assist in the education of their children – no excuses!

  27. I’m told the Virgin Mary was 13 years old when she became pregnant. She’s the only woman not in need of the HPV vaccine.

  28. I don’t know if this is true http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/hpv-facts-0

    It tells me a different story.

    Water causes cancer.

  29. Tell the parents, “Under the banner of religious belief, a child shall be exempt from the immunization requirement!”

  30. The general principle should always be that the State should be very limited in its application of force against individuals. Our freedoms were hard won over centuries and should not be given up. We should always be suspicious to give them up in the name of a greater good. That is always how freedoms are lost. Freedom is not always compatible with what one may view as an ‘optimized’ society. We don’t need to live in a perfect society but more to the point, a perfect society is not possible anyway. At what cost is there to such a goal? Brave New World made that point.

  31. #NOHPVmandateRI health officials have not reversed the mandate but they have decided for the time being to not strictly enforce the mandate based on the group’s loud voice against it. Oct 2nd there will be a united stand against the mandate and to advocate for informed consent. Join us and spread the word, all from CT and Mass are also welcome to attend and see the presentation while also standing united for informed consent. Pledge towards the money bomb to help with the movement gaspeeproject.com/nohpvmandate

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