Sunday, February 04, 2007

Are You Ready For Some Football?

I'm watching NASA tv. The two astronauts are outside in space, doing their mechanics and I am in awe of anyone able to calmly hang in utter nothingness while performing so ably. Sunita Williams, the Flight Engineer, is expected to surpass the standing record of a female astronaut for elasped time outside. I see her arm and hear her voice performing mechanical duties along side her male counterpart, the Commander of the mission. Spacewalkers. Nothing average about their day at the office.

The Super Bowl happens this evening. You may have heard. I do enjoy the commercials and the wackiness of the whole thing. My parents where lucky enough to attend several Super Bowls, with excellent seats, as I was growing up. My father's career afforded them some good perks along the way.

Today we'll continue eating the spiral cut ham from last night. I can't believe the terrific price I got on that. I put a mustard and garlic coat on the top of it and slowly heated it in the oven. The guys around here won't eat 'sweet' glazes on ham. Almond rice pilaf and green beans accompanied the meat. The lemon buttermilk cake was a hit. Tasted good with coffee this morning, too.

I've been thinking about a new bit of legislation put into effect in the great state of Texas by Executive Order of the Governor. Governor Perry, aka Governor Goodhair, has put into motion mandatory vaccination of all girls entering sixth grade for the human papilloma virus, HPV, responsible for cervical cancer in women. We are the first state in the nation to make this mandate. Some raise the question of constitutionality about the Executive Order used to put the mandate into place. The legislature is in session so, technically speaking, an Executive Order is not practiced. I don't know about that aspect of the controversy, it's above my paygrade.

So, what to think of this? Let me preface this by saying I don't have a daughter and won't have to actually make the decision. I'm just going by a hypothetical conclusion after reading both sides of the argument.

I'd have to go with supporting the mandatory vaccination of the girls, aged 11 to 12. I think it just makes good sense. This is the first vaccine against cancer! How incredible is that? Throughout my lifetime the medical community, along with the scientific community, have been searching for tools to battle cancer. This is one. The vaccine has been ready and tested for a year now. No, long term effects are not available yet but those vaccinated now will be monitored over the next few years.

Cervical cancer takes 3,700 lives a year. Worldwide, it is the number 2 cancer in women and takes 233,000 lives a year, with 470,000 new cases each year. Each year. In order for the vaccine to work, it must be given to girls before they are sexually active. The disease turns up after many years of infection. Most insurance policies will cover the vaccine, administered in three spaced doses. Low income parents will have the vaccine available to them with state assistance. And, there is the opt out alternative available for girls with medical issues, religious, moral or philosophical reasons against the vaccine, just like with the other vaccines students need for school admittance.

I think the vaccine is good public policy, too. This eliminates a disease. The upcoming generation will be cervical cancer-free if this policy moves forward across the nation. No future medical costs for those not insured or otherwise unable to pay for treatment and hospital stays. Think polio. Or ruebella.

Some are crying foul in this state over an alleged conflict of interest between Governor Perry and Merck, the manufacturer of the vaccine, Gardasil. Merck contributed to the Perry campaign and is on record of contributing $6,000 to him since 2005. Frankly, I think this is just silly. The governor of the state of Texas can be bought for $6,000? In today's political world, that's chump change.

Some conservatives are against it on moral grounds. Again, this rings hollow to me. A vaccine does not encourage promiscuity. The vaccine is not a cure for sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy. It wouldn't be viewed as a majic bullet by young people. They would be educated about the same issues as now when it comes to sex. Also, to not deal with the fact that your child will, one day, be sexually active, whether with a married partner or not, well, that's just courting danger.

I agree with a vice president of clinical research for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center here in Houston, Dr. Maurie Markman. "I think it's wonderful". "I think it is wonderful to be in the first state to make a statement about preventing the infection shown to cause cancer." M.D. Anderson is internationally known as a huge medical facility on the cutting edge of cancer research and treatment. I'll take the opinion of that medical facility any day.

The vaccine will be available for 6th graders for the 2007 school year beginning in August. The mandate goes into effect for school year 2008, beginning in August 2008.

And now, back to the matter at hand - Go Colts! I'll be feeling a bit old rooting for Archie's boy, Peyton, but c'est la vie. Time marches on.


srp said...

I asked the family doc here and you can vaccinate girls as young as 9. The problem may be that there are insurances that are not paying for it and it is quite expensive. Perhaps making it mandate will help force insurances to pay for it as the routine vaccination of newborns for Hepatitis B is now.

I think in the long run, the savings in fewer cervical curretages and other surgical procedures in the treatment for dysplasia and carcinoma will more than make up for the cost of the vaccine.

It may not be a politically correct thing to say, but with the rampant child sexual abuse and the kids having sex at earlier and earlier ages and with multiple partners, vaccination is the only way to go. It won't help girls who are already promiscuous as much as it will the younger girls who haven't had sex yet.

I wonder how long it will be before they try it on males to prevent the same type of HPV in the boys. After all it is a sexually transmitted disease and infected girls give it to guys, infected guys give it to girls.c

Beverly said...

Yeah, Colts! Yeah, Peyton! Yeah, Coach Dungy!