Perry Faces New Criticism Over HPV Vaccine Order

AUSTIN (AP) – Four years ago, Gov. Rick Perry put aside his social conservative bona fides and signed an order requiring Texas girls to be vaccinated against HPV.

The human papillomavirus is a sexually spread virus that can cause cervical cancer, and he says his aim was protecting against that cancer. But it didn’t take long for angry conservatives in the Legislature to override a measure they thought tacitly approved premarital sex, and for critics to accuse Perry of cronyism.

Now Perry’s taking heat on the issue anew as he runs for the presidential nomination of a GOP heavily influenced by conservatives who are sour on the government dictating health care requirements. Illustrating the delicate politics at play, he’s both defending himself and calling his action a mistake.

“If I had it to do over again, I would have done it differently,” Perry said Monday night as he debated his rivals, insisting that he would have worked with the Legislature instead of unilaterally acting. But he did not back down from his stance that girls should be vaccinated against the virus, which is generally spread by sexual contact. He argued that it wasn’t a mandate and noted that he included the right for parents to opt out of the vaccinations.

“This was about trying to stop a cancer,” he said. “I am always going to err on the side of life.”

Not that the explanation satisfied his GOP opponents.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told Perry, “This is big government run amok. It is bad policy, and it should not have been done.”

And Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, looking to siphon support from Perry’s base of evangelical and tea party supporters, said: “To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong.” She also noted that that the company that makes the vaccine, Merck & Co., employed Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff, as a lobbyist in Texas, and that the drug company had donated to Perry’s campaigns.

Renewing the attack Tuesday, Bachmann said on NBC’s “Today” show that “it’s very clear that crony capitalism could likely have been the cause” of Perry’s executive order.

The exchanges mirror the criticism Perry took in 2007.

It all began when Merck, which won approval for the first HPV vaccine a year earlier, was spending millions lobbying state legislators to require girls to be vaccinated with the new product, Gardasil. The company also was donating money to a national organization called Women in Government, which in Texas was led by state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, who chaired the House public health committee. She was also the mother-in-law of Perry’s chief of staff at the time, Deirdre Delisi — the same woman who now is one of Perry’s top presidential campaign aides.

Schedule and campaign finance reports show that on one day — Oct. 16, 2006 — Deirdre Delisi held a staff meeting to discuss the vaccine and Merck’s political action committee gave Perry $5,000. The drug maker had previously given $6,000 in donations. Perry’s office called the timing of the donation a coincidence.

A review of campaign finance reports shows that Merck’s political action committee continued to contribute, a total of $17,500 to Perry’s campaign fund between 2008 and 2010 even though Perry’s order was eventually overturned.

By early 2007, Toomey and Dianne White Delisi were working to overcome opposition among lawmakers to a bill to require the vaccination. But conservatives said they feared the requirement would infringe on personal liberties and signal approval of premarital sex. Rather than wait for the Legislature to act, Perry signed an executive order on Feb. 2, 2007, requiring the vaccination — with an opt-out provision. It surprised even his allies who acknowledged that it was out of step with his limited-government stance.

Perry explained his action by pointing to his long-documented passion about fighting cancer. He had signed a host of legislation to that end, including a constitutional amendment in Texas that created a cancer research institute funded with $3 billion from bond sales.

“We have a vaccine that’s going to save young women’s lives,” Perry said in 2007. “This is wise public policy.”

The governor quickly found that Texas parents didn’t like the idea of the government telling preadolescents to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease. Within three weeks, the House public health committee approved a bill negating the order but Perry persisted in defending his initiative. By May 8, when it was clear the Legislature was going to pass the bill stopping his order, Perry said he would stop fighting.

A statewide requirement for the three-shot, $360 vaccine in Texas could have earned millions for Merck, at the time the only company with a vaccine on the market. GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix was approved in 2009.

At issue are sexually transmitted strains of the human papillomavirus, the leading cause of cervical cancer in women. HPV also can cause genital warts, penile and anal cancer — and types of oral cancer when spread through oral sex. More than 11,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and about 4,000 die from it.

Many specialists say that among the sexually active, HPV is about as common as the common cold. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 20 million people are infected, most in their late teens and early 20s — although most no show obvious symptoms and eventually clear the virus. A handful of high-risk HPV strains can silently linger in the body to cause cancer years later.

Though not required, about half of teen girls got one dose of the vaccine last year — and a third had gotten all three doses. Specialists say the sex factor plays a role in reluctance, as pediatricians struggle to explain why it’s best to inoculate before the teen years or parents wonder if getting their youngster a vaccination means they also should start discussing sexual activity. Studies have found no serious side effects, with the most common reactions being redness or swelling at the injection site.

Many experts recommend that parents get their children vaccinated, with girls starting the shots at 11 or 12, an age set so that most girls would have the full series completed well before they become sexually active — although the shots can be given up to age 26. Gardasil is approved for boys and young men, too, as protection against genital warts and anal cancer, but Perry never suggested that the requirement be extended to boys.

Since 2006, 41 state legislatures and the District of Columbia have introduced laws related to promoting or requiring insurance coverage for the HPV vaccination, but only Virginia and the District of Columbia have laws requiring it.

The issue is certain not to go away for Perry. He’s speaking Wednesday at Liberty University in Virginia, a Christian school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, before an audience of evangelical conservatives who may cringe at this part of his record.

“If there’s one thing that Governor Perry is going to have to deal with it’s the mandate for HPV,” said Tea Party Express chairman Amy Kremer. She credited Perry for publicly admitting a mistake but added: “I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard of it.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. Will says:

    I dont get why people are upset. To be upset at this is like being upset that you got the polo vacine. If there was a vacine that prevented aids would you not take it? This is a sexually transmited diesese that causes cancer!

    1. Dobbie says:

      Because he did it si his former aide could get rich with Merck!

      1. Will says:

        He recieved 5k for it.. Not a large sum of money.

        Again, this stops this form of CANCER. Why would anyone be against people being inoculated.

      2. DM Survivor says:

        So very silly and led by hear say. 5K is not getting rich. If my daughter was that age today I would have her vaccinated. You obviously have not seen anyone suffer through cancer and die a horrible death. If this could prevent one person from suffering this end I am for the vaccine. have you seen a man with his tongue cut out or his throat have removed because of cancer? I think anyone against this should go to any hospital and visit the infusion floors. See what the fate of so many people will be because of this epidemic called HPV!

    2. DM Survivor says:

      I work with cancer patients everyday. Every cervical cancer patient has said they had HPV and two men with oral cancer were with women who had HPV.
      Educating the public on the dangers of HPV and the vaccine would have been a much better way to approach this. But, even with the events unfolding as they have people are much more aware of this potential life threatening condition. Anyone can get too passionate about an issue and act without complete consideration. Gov. Perry has admitted to this and it has been corrected. What else do you want? let’s stop being unreasonably rediculous and move on to more important issues like our economy, jobs and inflation.

      1. Eatin' Out says:

        How did the men get oral cancer from women with HPV?! Oh, right. Ew.

    3. Robin Bevers says:

      First off, you must have missed the article on this drug and the results of alot of youth who have been severely impacted by this drug. This drug for the hpv virus was basically made for adults. This drug has proved to be toxic for 12 year olds and young women with allergic reactions to certain drugs. Their have been 12 yr olds who are now blind, crippled, achy to the point of having a 80 yr old body when they are only 12. The side effects are life threatening. Next thing that I want to state is MR. Perry, did not research this drug and the effects it has on children, if he had he would not have specified the age the girls should receive this injection and Mr. Perry states at ths recent televised debate that it was not mandated. Well, that its not what was said at the time he enacted the bill. Myself and alot of other Women KNOW what was said. At this time there are thousands going into a much higher number of young girls who can not leave their homes due to the impairment this drug has caused. I Know Mr. Perry meant well, but instead he has caused alot of life threatening damage. Know on the Upside, this drug is good for Women 20 and above who do not have allergies, in saving their lives from cancer.

    4. SD G says:

      Is there really a POLO vaccine?!

      Of course people are upset because the drug manufacturer was going to make MILLIONS from the citizens of Texas required by their then Governor’s demand they get the vaccine! If the drug company had NOT given money to the then governor, Rick Perry, he would NOT have issued the demand, period!

    5. Jason Laughlin says:

      Hey Will, you’re leaving out two VERY important factors: 1) The term ‘mandate’ gets irresponsibly thrown around here, even though Perry has repeatedly mentioned you could op out bu filling out an affidavit, and 2)it was mandated because all three vaccine shots cost $120 each, and if it wan’t mandated the insurance companies wouldn’t cover the costs.

      However, if any of you people are considering voting for Googly-Eyes Bachmann, then you’re a lost cause, and these sound reasons are a waste of time.

  2. Mark Knox says:

    This is why he is such a flip flop. The Texas legislature passed a bill that would make it illegal to text while driving. Perry vetoed it. Perry said it was big government. Voters disagreed, this would have saved lives. But he will do an executive order forcing young girls to a sex inoculation. Perry said it was to save lives. Really?

    1. Will says:

      The text while driving is a nanny state legislation. Baning guns would also save lives, but I am against that too personally.

      Listen I am as conservitive as they come, but to not require this vacine is irresposible. He did the right thing in this instance. Again, this STOPS this form of CANCER.

      Please someone give me a REASON why this should not be mandatory.

      1. Patrick says:


        If HPV virus was an epidemic like Polio or Measles or Smallpox that spread through normal day to day activity, I would agree that vaccinations should be mandatory. But that is simply not the case with this disease.

        Would you ban Cigarettes and Cigars because they CAUSE cancer? Would y ou force people to exercise becuase it might risk heart disease? Where would you draw the line from your “conservative” point of view?

      2. Will says:

        I give you the same question..

        If their was a vacine that CURED AIDS would you not require it? This is a sexually transmited diesese (just like aids) and you spead CANCER and kill people by not requiring it.

        It is irresposible to not make this maditory.

      3. Will says:

        Oh and Pactrick, they do ban cigs in public places. What you do to yourself is your own business, but when you start spreading your dieseses or issues to other people that is when it does become the publics business.

        Also, refering to your smallpox argument, how is this diffrent? Smallpox is trasmiting through the air. This is transmited by having sex (orally too).

        In addition it is illegal to knowenly have sex if you have aids and do not inform the other party. Same instance should be in place here since this cures this form of cancer that is spread through sexual activity. Remember like 1 and 3 people have hpv and if we required innoculation we would CURE this type of cancer.

      4. Anti-Gardasil Mom says:

        It definitely should NOT be mandatory and Will, you are WAY off base with your limited knowledge of this vaccine. My daughter had the vaccine at age 12 and immediately after her third shot began to experience daily seizures, extreme fatigue and fevers to the point that she was almost bed-bound for over 3 months. 6 rounds of bloodwork, three doctors, an EEG, MRI and 2 x-rays found nothing. 3 years later and her entire immune system is still a mess, she gets sick constantly and has had to be on homebound from school for almost an entire semester. Her overall health is terrible and we still have no definitive “cause,” only mountains of other claims and reports from other parents whose kids had similar and worse reactions to this vaccine. We have filed reports with the CDC, her doctor had to compile a detailed report and our claims were investigated, along with thousands of others. Still, the vaccine remains on the market. It is a dangerous drug and should never have been put on the market without more testing and extensive, CLEAR warnings for parents and doctors. Get your facts before supporting such a dangerous mandate.

      5. Patrick says:

        Will, I would make an AIDS vaccine mandatory. I might take it myself, but I woulnd’t make it mandatory.

        And Will, I think banning cigarettes is different from banning them altogether, although I do believe that we have gone too far in some of the places smoking has been banned. I don’t smoke by the way, but I think people should have a right to smoke and drink and smoke pot and snort whatever they wish.

        They should also have a right to NOT have to take a vaccine that could have harmful side affects. I don’t get flu vaccines for the same reason, but if a deadly pandemic was sweeping the globe.

        Vaccines should only be mandatory if they protect the public from a potentially catastrophic epidemic. Otherwise it should be up to individuals (or there parents in the case of minors) to determine what to inject into thier own bodies.

      6. Will says:

        Patrick, so would you consider 50% of the population having this diesease an epidemic? Below are some stastics from the CDC fact sheet.. Go check it out.

        How common are HPV and related diseases?
        HPV (the virus). Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Another 6 million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.

        Cervical cancer. Each year, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the U.S. Almost all of these cancers are HPV-associated.

        What are the risks from HPV–Gardasil vaccine?
        The HPV-Gardasil® vaccine has been used in the U.S. and around the world for several years and has been very safe.

        However, any medicine could possibly cause a serious problem, such as a severe allergic reaction. The risk of any vaccine causing a serious injury, or death, is extremely small.

        Life-threatening allergic reactions from vaccines are very rare. If they do occur, it would be within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.

        Several mild to moderate problems are known to occur with this HPV vaccine. These do not last long and go away on their own.

        Reactions in the arm where the shot was given
        Pain (about 8 people in 10)
        Redness or swelling (about 1 person in 4)
        Mild (100° F) (about 1 person in 10)
        Moderate (102° F) (about 1 person in 65)
        Other problems
        Headache (about 1 person in 3)
        Fainting. Brief fainting spells and related symptoms (such as jerking movements) can happen after any medical procedure, including vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes after a vaccination can help prevent fainting and injuries caused by falls. Tell your doctor if the
        patient feels dizzy or light-headed, or has vision changes or ringing in the ears.
        Like all vaccines, HPV vaccines will continue to be monitored for unusual or severe problems.

      7. sciencenothysteria says:

        anti-gardasil mom, I’m truly sorry your daughter is sick but there are not mountains of evidence that gardasil causes any of the serious conditions you describe. it can cause redness, mild fever or fatique. some have allergic reactions but not long term effects. I prefer to put my faith in science.

      8. SD G says:

        If as you state above, you are against a “nanny state” , why are there laws against driving while intoxicated?! It has been shown that texting while driving a car is AS DANGEROUS as driving while intoxicated. You can’t state you’re against certain laws because it makes a “nanny state” with any credibility. We DO NOT vaccinate people for diseases that are NOT COMMUNICABLE. This vaccination is for a disease, cancer, that is NOT COMMUNICABLE, meaning you don’t catch it from someone else like the flu or a common cold. That is one reason why this vaccine should not be mandatory. A second reason is ALL vaccines have some potentially deadly side effects, so that is another reason why this vaccine should NOT be mandatory. Available for a parent(s) option for their minor children, yes, but NOT mandatory required by the state.

    2. Patrick says:


      Last I checked 20M is only 6% of the population.

      My last word is this. If you don’t want HPV and want to limit your risk of it’s associated cancers, get the vaccine.

      The drug company can devise a campaign to talk people into it using the existing propoganda machine. It works. This drug company was trying to do it on the cheap by using a corrupt government official to force it on an unwilling population.

      Shame on both of them.

      I respect your opinion. I just disagree with it.

      1. Will says:

        Pactrick- The 20 million number and 50% is directly from the cdc web site. See below.

        HPV (the virus). Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Another 6 million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.

  3. Patrick says:

    Cronyism? Crony Capitalism?

    Soft names for what really ails our country. It’s called corruption. It is rampant throughout the US government. What concerns me is how the press in Texas gave Perry a free ride back in 2007 on this incident. I suspect more than $5K changed hands.

  4. Phillip says:

    As he should ! and I think Obama payed him to divide the Republican party to!
    There is no difference between Obama & Perry, Welfare, Health care, Education, for Illegals ! that,s right illegals ! illegals are DRAINING AMERICAN Resources !

  5. Rod says:

    All of this is just a drop in the bucket.perry has a lot of issues they need to call him on.To much to list here.

  6. Cole Younger says:

    If that Jerk water fool .makes it to the be pesident the whold world will be sorry for it …………….God must like Ass H_les becouse he made Perry a big one ……….

  7. NiteNurse says:

    HPV also causes some oral, anal, and peni$ cancers. Why not protect both your daughter and son againist some of these horrible cancers?

    1. NiteNurse says:

      Had to spell one word a little crazy because the website prevents you from posting certain words.

    2. Will says:

      NiteNurse, I am not against that and actually think it is a good idea.

      1. Will says:

        Cancer sucks, and if you can get a shot to prevent it, why not?

        I think the only reason some people are being deaf here is for political reason but that hurts everyone especially the next person that gets this horrable diesease.

      2. DDT says:

        I’ve also got a solution to preventing these types of cancers, and it doesn’t come with side-effects of vaccinations (Guillain-Barre syndrome, etc.). How about putting a wrapper on it when playing Mr. Skin Boat Goes To Tuna Town?

    3. Dr. Sarcasm says:

      Farrah seemed OK with her ass cancer. It can’t be all THAT bad…

    4. NiteNurse says:

      ALL VACCINES come with potential complications such as the very rare Guillian Barre syndrome. Any drug you take has complications but you take them because you weigh the good againist the bad. Listen you all let’s quit being like Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory checking for evil in every government required policy. Some things like requiring vaccines to prevent horrible diseases is GOOD! Remember getting and spreading diseases is BAD and getting vaccines is a GOOD thing.

      1. LOL says:

        Yeah, like that highly effective flu vaccine.

    5. mae says:

      better yet, why not stop hoeing around so you’re never exposed to it to begin with? problem. solved.

  8. johnnies rocket says:

    This is a perfect example of how crazy right wing nuts have become. They get wigged about a vaccine but have no qualms about holding a woman down that’s seeking an abortion and jamming an ultrasound probe up her you know what. The vaccine was optional.

    1. Anthony's Weiner and Barney's Frank says:

      I agree. I’m a conservative on just about every issue, but I don’t want the government touching my body in any way shape or form unless I WANT THEM TO. I also would like to fire up a spliff without worrying about Johnny Law kicking the door down.

  9. Land says:

    Rick Perry likes to make the government bigger for cash from his friends. It’s the “new conservatism”.

  10. mjb says:

    No, Land, it is the “friends & family plan” brought to you by just another State actor, courtesy of the loot stolen from you by your “friend” and “protector.”

  11. DM Survivor says:

    Why pass into law something that cannot possibly be controlled? This is rediculous!!

    1. Spelling Nazi says:

      Yeah, REDICULOUS! LOL. Rube.

    2. getajob says:

      Like a dung beetle who’s only role is to feast on the detritus.

  12. Harris54 says:

    Corruption in America is causing its demise and it has roots in Texas exposes a really disturbing case

  13. Mike Judge Is God says:

    Thank you, Spelling Nazi.

    Can ANY of you dumb motherf—ers SPELL? Jesus H. Christ. I just watched Idiocracy for the first time, and it’s not 500 years into the future as far as I can tell. It’s NOW. What a bunch of drooling mongoloids. The whole lot of you!

  14. Kent says:

    Government should not be forcing us to take any medications, let alone a drug with a safety record in serious question. As of September 2010, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System lists more than 18,000 Gardasil-related adverse events, including at least 65 deaths. i would not take this drug – mandated by Perry or my doctor – it falls in the long line of unsafe drugs from Merck (remember Vioxx).

  15. Miss V says:

    As both a mom and a Christian, I support a vaccine that protects my kids against cancer, sexually transmitted or not. If my children make it to marriage without having sex, wonderful. The odds that they will marry a person who also has never had sex are pretty slim. They could be infected with HPV by their new husband/wife. To say that getting the vaccine tacitly promotes premarital sex is so stupid I have trouble thinking about it without raising my blood pressure. I can’t believe that you people who oppose it on those grounds would rather see your children suffer with cancer, as long as they remain “pure”. You gone past conservative; you seem to heading down a slippery slope toward resembling those practitioners of religions that mandate killing a daughter if they find out the girl isn’t a virgin. One of my children is vaccinated (all 3 doses, no ill effects of any kind), and the other is about to be. I wonder how a woman dying of cervical cancer would feel when her parent tells her that she could have had a vaccination against it, but they chose not to give it to her in case it encouraged her to have sex. Should it be mandatory? Probably not. Strongly encouraged? Yes. As far as Rick Perry’s actions re the vaccine, all I have to say is, typical big-money politician.

  16. makesGWBlookSmart says:

    The vaccine is not the problem. Perry’s actions are. It reminds me of his role in the Emerging Technology Fund “pay to play” republican bribery case where he took tax payer and rate payer funded research money and channeled it to his political allies. Or the way he stacked the committee investigating the willingham case with his allies to fend off an unflattering conclusion.

  17. jake34 says:

    Give Perry any power and he will pass anything that lines his pockets.

  18. Betty Nelson says:


  19. John P says:

    Perry did the right thing if you have cancer you would be prayer to to the lordf helpme dont let me die lord keep it up mr president rick Perry

  20. Artie says:

    I applaud the effort to “educate and encourage” teenage girls and parents on the dangers of the cancer and the benefits of HPV injections. I DON’T think taxpayer money should be used to vaccinate girls at $500+ per teenage girl on a cancer or disease that isn’t communicable and won’t spread to others as an epidemic such as measles, chickenpox, hepatitis, etc… for which vaccinations are mandatory for school children before allowed enrollment or attendance. If after education, the girl and parents opt not to get the injection, they live with the consequences. NOW, not all families can afford such injections on their own without insurance, shouldn’t OBAMAcare take care of that?

  21. Shaun says:

    What i find odd about Perry’s stance on this vaccine is that he also promotes abstinence teaching to children and he doesn’t support sex education. If you believe abstinence works here in Texas then why the need to have 12 year old girls get this vaccine? Now I know abstinence doesn’t work, our teen pregnancy ranking here in Texas proves that. This is why its hard to believe him when he says he supported the vaccine because he hates cancer or maybe he really doesn’t believe that abstinence only teaching really works.

  22. Joann says:

    I just found out I have the cancer causing HPV, and I wish it was available when I was younger and could prevent this.

    1. Brit says:

      You could have. It’s called keeping your legs closed, tart.

  23. NiteWatering says:

    Point-not all people have it with just anybody and some at all, thus this is not a disease that everyone is going to get. Polio and all the other vaccinations where forced because it was spread by general contact with other people thus no one could avoid getting it unless they had innoculation.
    HPV & Aides is something through life choices you can prevent getting. So no if they had a vacine that cured aides they should not force it on the general public because the general public will not get aides. Those doing drugs, being sexually active or needing blood tranfusions on a regular basis are the ones that should get such a shot, but not be made mandentory since the disease is not spread by general contact.
    As 4 this shot it was stated it also protects boys yet it was not forced upon them, why not? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. It is a proven fact this shot has done a lot of harm to some girls, thus it should only be given to the target group of 20 years old as optional and no younger, hand out condomes to 12 years old if you fear they are having sexual contact, yet you would be better off trying to prevent them from doing it that young.
    “Nanny” rules pretain to any rule made that will protect a healthy individual from being harmed by something. Tobacco, alcohol, texting, mandatory shots, etc. all fall into this category. Thus forcing this shot was a Nanny rule also, one which only protects those who do not restrain themselves while possibly causing harm to those that do. Take alcohol or texting, both harm others who are hit by offenders so they fall more in protection rules as do shots which prevent disease by general contact. As 4 tobacco it is no more harmful than the tailpipe on your car nor all the air pollution coming from factories, etc.
    As for cancer there are known cartogens that they recently took out of your daily vitamins, yet use it to clean the cans your food goes into. Since cancer patients where cared for way before people wore gloves in the medical field (parteners with cancer where still active) I think if it could be spread by contact with blood, etc. a lot more people would have it way before our current times even if it had evolved in time. I do know a healthy doctor got into a car wreck and died months later from cancer which started in the location of his injury. Name one cancer that doesn’t start in a loction where possible injury occurs?
    Perry is not out to save the world, he’s out to destroy it while making a buck. Few cents here or there it all adds up.

  24. sadiedog says:

    look at his picture . he looks like he is going to have a temper tantrum

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