ANOTHER MANDATED VACCINE ??
By Edie Johnson
A determined group of women marched into Senator James Skoufis’ Newburgh office on Wednesday, intent on probing his views on the likelihood of mandated Gardasil HVP (vaccine) being made law Albany in the near future. Each of the ladies present was representing likeminded friends from the Washingtonville/New Windsor area who have special concerns for their children, and several brought reports anxious friends, some of which believe family members have suffered side effects after being vaccinated. Social media has been buzzing over the past few months with rumors that a mandate was in the works to be passed into law sometime in January. It’s no secret that nothing is more fierce than a group of moms who are out to protect their young, and these ladies came well-armed with a stack of research. Just as vehemently as safety concerns, these moms were protesting the already existing process, because the vaccine is being offered to teenagers through school nurse offices, clinics and hospitals with or without parental permission. And, while parents worry about side effects, many of those promoting the vaccine to teens have reportedly been either downplaying potential side effects, or not mentioning them at all. An additional serious concern voiced by more than one mom is that they believe promoting the vaccine is giving their teens tacit permission to become sexually active, one mom saying their family doctor had given their son the HVP shot (contrary to the mom and son’s agreement before going in for his pre-college physical) by saying “You’re going to college now, you should have this!”
The meeting turned out to be an excellent information-sharing opportunity, as well as a chance to determine exactly where Skoufis stands on the issue, and what he knows about the likelihood of vaccination becoming mandated, especially since he helped lead the charge for measles vaccination after an outbreak in Rockland County last year spread to parts of Orange County.
Senator Skoufis Responds
While freely admitting that he is generally “pro-vaccine”, Senator Skoufis said that he firmly believes that there is no need to fear any imminent mandate requiring teen vaccination ” Skoufis said that the bill to require HPV vaccinations “is currently dead”, adding that he “has not heard a single word spoken about it this year”, and that “I don’t believe there is any appetite for it right now.” When pushed to clarify his position on the potential dangers of such a mandate, he said “I have not at this point done the kind of research into the vaccine and potential side effects to have a firm position yet,” adding that with increasing use and concern he will definitely be taking a deeper look into the facts. He did acknowledge however that he is “very pro-vaccine”. Further research will certainly be facilitated for him by a nearly two-inch stack of research brought by the group protest leader Astrid Delbue-Doninelli from Washingtonville, who has very strong feelings on the issue. Astrid said that as a naturalized citizen from Switzerland, she was shocked that in America mandates are voted through representatives, “not by the people”, whereas in Switzerland decisions like these are always made by a referendum vote.”
Not totally convinced by Skoufis’ reassurances, one mom asked “Can you assure us that this won’t be one of those deals where someone brings it up late at night when only a few are present and gets it passed.?” Skoufis again said “No. Bills don’t just come up by flukes.” Further, he said “There are already 1,000 other bills on the docket, and you have my word this topic has not even been brought up.”
With yet more reassurances that he would not vote for a mandated vaccine without a lot more research, Skoufis did allow that he is strongly in favor of vaccines if they have been researched to be safe. He posed the likelihood that HPV vaccines have been a hot topic recently, likely because of the heated debate and then passing of a mandated measles vaccine, and that in fact this heated debate throughout the area may be getting stoked by an anti-vacc group in Rockland County. But, this, he agreed with the moms, is a different and sensitive issue because being sexually transmitted the virus can’t be contracted by casual contact.
The issue is made even more complicated because of some differing opinions on research in the medical community. The virus produces warts in the genital area which can be removed by acid or burning. The virus itself, however, can remain dormant for years, and may or may not cause a future lesion. Further, there are many different strains, and doctors now believe that only a minimal number of about 300 varieties can be cancer-causing. Those who have had related family issues say that the dangers of the virus, as well as possible dangers from the vaccine are reported very differently depending on which doctor or which expert you talk to, or which research you read. Bottom line, they say, is that the science about it seems to still be questionable, and more research needs to be done, especially before calling for a mandate. Among those vaccinated, there have been more than a few reports of problems with immune system responses. Parents who have children who already have immune system issues are especially worried about side effects.
And there is a concern of a “fox in the hen house effect” with the research, which is often done by pharmaceutical companies who benefit financially from results that show few adverse effects They may introduce unintended bias in study design and evaluating the results. For instance, opponents claim that in one research study they combined the aluminum group and the saline placebo group as to not upset the public and cause undue stress. The review says that the way they presented those results shows there is a 0% systemic autoimmune adverse event. It reads 0%, they said, because when you combine the two and cleverly categorize it as “AAHS OR Saline”, you can use whichever data you would like. So they reported the 0% change that occurred between the vaccine group and the AAHS group. Of course there were no changes, because both groups received aluminum! However, when you break down the numbers for the saline placebo group, you actually find that 2.3% of the girls in both the vaccine group and the AAHS (aluminum) test group developed a systemic autoimmune disorder within 6 months, while THE SALINE PLACEBO GROUP HAD NONE.
There are also statistical difficulties in analyzing any reported side effects, which may be considered coincidental unless further research shows clear cause and effect.
The numbers are frightening: None of these worries negate that there is a problem, particularly among the young, with instances of the HPV virus. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US today. According to the CDC in a 2017 report, prevalence of any and high-risk genital HPV for adults aged 18–59 was 45.2% and 25.1% in men and 39.9% and 20.4% in women, respectively, with at least 79 million people estimated to be currently infected. Most people with HPV, though, do not know that they are infected
But these moms will not be giving up their protests any time soon, because for them it’s about the health and safety of their children, but also about being “We the People” and preserving their rights to choose. If the issue does come up in the Assembly or Senate in Albany, you can be sure they will be there saying loud and clear “Do not try to take away my parental rights. If my child has no intention of being sexually active, and therefore cannot transmit or receive the virus, you have no right to impose it.”
In all, the protest ended up being great learning opportunity and a chance for Senator Skoufis to hear the opinions of a significant number of his constituents, and receive a ‘Heads Up” that if a mandate does come up in State Senate, there will be plenty of opposition.
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