It seems the topic of immunization is all over the news. On the national front, it is the CDC’s so-called controversial recommendation to approve the HPV vaccine for all women, recommending that girls between the ages of 11 and 12 receive the vaccine while receiving a number of other boosters that they receive at that age, such as tetanus and MMR shots.
I’ll come back to that in a minute.
On the state level, however, it is one of a more technological nature. Everyone knows Gov. Pataki is all about registries and databases. He wants a similar one that will house DNA information about criminals. He already has a confidential one that stores information about parents who were reported for child abuse but never indicated.
I can understand some of the issues people have with these databases – that they infringe on personal privacy, etc. – but I don’t agree with them. Actually, my only beef with a database is that, while I’m guilty of this myself, it is another instance where we’re becoming far too dependent on computer networks that are exceedingly fragile. One virus could wipe out all these records, and then what would happen? Terrorists don’t need to hit physical targets and kill thousands of people to hurt the U.S.
However, besides that – what’s so bad about having this information easily accessible? Especially vaccination information? The bill came about in response to Hurricane Katrina, when thousands of displaced families had no medical or immunization records. New York had a nasty flooding disaster just last week, and though it wasn’t of Katrina proportions, it could have been.
Well, the groups fighting against it are the very same groups who are fighting against mandatory immunization. The Coalition for an Informed Choice. This New York-based interest group lobbies Albany to reform the mandatory school vaccination laws. A letter explaining their views can be found here. Not knowing much about the group other than what I’ve googled this morning upon writing this entry, I can’t say whether I agree with their position or not.
However, it does raise an interesting point: how interest groups lobby hard against periphial issues. And now, I’ll go back to the HPV vaccination. The vaccine, which is being lauded by gynecologists as a breakthrough, and could potentially prevent cervical cancer in countless women. Over 75 percent of sexually active men and women are carriers of some form of HPV, and the many of the strains of HPV that develop into genital warts are not the same as the strains that develop into cervical cancer. While this vaccine isn’t a blanket solution, it is a step in the right direction for women’s reproductive health.
Guess who is fighting the vaccine? The fundamentalist Christian Right. Because, you know, protecting yourself from these sorts of diseases will lead to out of wedlock sex, Never mind that sex among consenting adults is perfectly legal, whether or not you are married. Never mind that even if you DON’T engage in premarital sex, there’s nothing saying your partner did not, either, and your partner could infect you. Never mind that one in six American women are sexually assaulted, and that statistic continues to grow.
So, just like a group who is against vaccinations would be against a database keeping track of vaccinations, a group that is against sex would be against a vaccine that protects against a sexually transmitted disease.
I find it interesting, if only because it is yet more instances where the spirit of compromise known so well by the original partisan politicians – Thomas Jefferson and John Adams – is essentially dead in 2006. Hence, instead of the formation of good public policy, we have both sides foaming at the mouth, ready for blood. So, instead of a spirit of compromise (say, for example, you don’t offer the vaccine to 11 and 12 year olds universally, but offer it to incoming college students like is done with the Hepatitis vaccine), nothing gets done.
No policies are implemented.
People die. Or, at the very least, people get sick.
It just doesn’t make sense to me.