Late Wednesday evening last week, I received a call from WTVR/CBS6 in Richmond requesting an interview regarding a new report that reveals that the HPV vaccine Gardasil may be responsible for 16 deaths and thousands of adverse reactions just since May of last year. You can watch the interview here. The issue hit the media when the citizen interest group Judicial Watch acquired FDA documents that reveal the problems with Gardasil (read its report here). It has particular relevance with us because, in 2007, the General Assembly passed legislation that "requires" all girls entering the sixth grade to receive the vaccine. It did this over the objections despite many vigorous objections.
Despite this setback, The Family Foundation worked with legislators to include a broad parental "opt-out" provision so that no child can be forced to take the vaccine. Parents simply can say no. Efforts to repeal the law since 2007 have been unsuccessful largely because concerns over the drug's safety have not been substantiated.
A parental opt-out was included in the 2007 law because, at that time, there were serious concerns that the drug had not been tested sufficiently. Many thought it could pose serious health risks to young girls who, to ensure its effectiveness, must take a three-shot series of the vaccine several times throughout their lives. Legislators largely ignored those concerns as the drug's manufacturer, Merck Pharmaceuticals, had worked early and hard behind the scenes to pave the way for the legislation's approval. In the coming days, The Family Foundation will inform legislators of this new report and begin working to ensure that Virginia's children are protected.