Lo and behold, in a followup to last week's story about Virginia's mandatory transfer of money from the Commonwealth to Merck, we find out from the director of the Federal Centers for Disease Control that Gardasil, Merck's vaccine for HPV, might not really be all that effective, and should not be made mandatory in any public school.
The chairman of the federal panel that recommended the new cervical-cancer vaccine for pre-teen girls says lawmakers should not make the inoculation mandatory, as the District and more than 20 states, including Virginia, are considering.
Taken in a series of three shots at $120 each, Gardasil is the most expensive vaccine on the market. About 45 percent of children would be eligible for free vaccines from the federal Vaccinations for Children program, while the other 55 percent would depend on the state programs and insurance companies.
But cancer data show that lawmakers looking to force pre-teen girls to take Gardasil, the lone vaccine on the market, are targeting the wrong age group.
Middle-school girls inoculated with the breakthrough vaccine will be no older than 18 when they pass Gardasil's five-year window of proven effectiveness -- more than a decade before the typical cancer patient contracts HPV, The Washington Times reported last week.
Merck is still studying Gardasil's longevity and the potential for a booster shot.