1. Virginia is for mandates

    Freedom Friday: Virginia's vaccine mandate gets new life

    Parents have spoken loud and clear: They don't want dangerous HPV vaccinations forced on their daughters. Even the most ardent pro-vaccine moms and dads have been refusing Merck's Gardasil shot, and I say good for them.

    But politicians are too dazzled by Big Pharma money to get the message.

    Just look at Virginia, home to eight U.S. presidents along with a notorious mandate that requires all girls between the ages of 11 and 12 get the expensive three-shot Gardasil sequence.

    (Sure, there's an opt-out clause. But you know how that works. Parents who exercise their right to opt out are treated like lepers.)

    Last month, lawmakers in Virginia managed to kill a proposed repeal of the mandate without actually voting on it -- allowing these chickens to please their Big Pharma masters without having to go on the record as voting for or against a vaccine mandate.

    Washington, Jefferson, and Madison would be so proud!

    Don't breathe a sigh of relief if you're not in Virginia. Big Pharma is hard at work trying to convince local, state, and federal officials to back HPV shots -- and they're getting big-time results.

    Under a recent law in California, for example, docs can give the shot to girls as young as 12 without parental consent or even their knowledge.

    On the federal level, the CDC recently extended its Gardasil recommendations to include boys as well as girls -- a move I'm sure is completely unrelated to the fact that the former head of the agency is now the head of vaccines at Merck.


    Here's the reality: This shot offers little to girls and even less for boys. Often wrongly called "the cervical cancer vaccine," it really protects against only some of the strains of HPV that cause the disease.

    In boys, it might cut the risk of extremely rare anal cancers -- cancers so rare almost no one gets them anyway.

    Now, I'd be the first to admit this shot would be worthwhile if it managed to save even a few lives without ruining any in the process -- but of course that's not the case.

    Gardasil has been linked to thousands of adverse events, including paralysis, seizures, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and even dozens of deaths.

    Worth it? Not on your life -- and not on the lives of your children and grandchildren.

  2. "Killer" winged friends terrorized by ignorant townies!

    Creature discomforts, part 2

    In the last Daily Dose, I wrote to you about a Washington town that's being overrun and terrorized by a group of roving raccoons. Pets have been killed, people bitten, and rabies shots administered, while attempts at control have been foiled.

    But these events in Olympia, Washington, are clearly not a case of nature run amuck, but of human nature (the desire of suburbanites to surround themselves with wildlife) run amuck - leading to an uncomfortably blurred line between the wild and the civilized. And ironically, a similar thing is happening in Virginia, only the other way around

    The people are invading nature and persecuting the critters!

    No, I'm not talking about hunting (a vital boon to wildlife, by the way) - more like witch-hunting. According to a report from the AP and other sources, the parents of nearly 1,000 Girl Scouts attending a northern Virginia camp were notified that their daughters might have been exposed to rabies throughout the summer Not by crazed raccoons, not by a pack of mad dogs, but by fantastically beneficial creatures anyone in their right mind should want all around us, all the time: Bats.

    The flap over these flying friends of humans everywhere (I'll explain this fully in a moment) started when one of the girls told her parents that there were a number of bats living in the eaves of one of their sleeping shelters

    Of course, in the hyper-protective nanny-state of modern America, this is all it took to send the affluent northern Virginia soccer moms and minivan dads into a tizzy. One of them notified the Girl Scout Council in Washington, D.C. - and before you know it, likely hundreds of these peaceful creatures were either killed or ousted from their dens in eaves and under rooftops at the camp they'd probably occupied for generations.

    Beyond this, cautionary letters about possible rabies exposure were fired off to the parents of 950 girls that have stayed at the camp so far in 2006. Health officials recommended that 16 of these kids be given a series of rabies shots - among them girls who hadn't used protective netting around their beds at night.

    Protective netting? I could understand it for protection against West Nile, but bats?!?

    Now, anywhere in that camp one of these extraordinary winged wonders could hole up has been screened in, walled off, or boarded up.

    What a moronic tragedy it is that these bats have been displaced. Though maligned and hated by most people, the truth is that bats do 1,000 times more to prevent human disease than they could EVER cause

    In the absence of DDT, bats are the very best insecticide on Earth.

    Every night of the summer, they consume literally thousands of tons of mosquitoes over every metropolitan area in the U.S. Bats are brutally efficient killing machines - against the flying threats that carry REAL health risks like West Nile Virus and other diseases. Without them, we'd be at the mercy of clouds of disease-carrying pestilence

    We might not even BE here-except for the bats. Period.

    If parents were really worried about their kids' health, they'd welcome bats in the eaves of their sleeping quarters - or they'd erect bat houses in their backyards to keep them close to home (you can buy them or make them, look it up online). Less than 1% of bats carry the rabies virus. Those that don't, you'll rarely see. Those that may be infected by the virus are likely not to be able to fly. The common sense solution to avoiding possible rabies exposure is to simply AVOID BATS YOU MAY SEE ON THE GROUND

    Tell your kids and grandkids that if they see a bat, to just leave it alone. In the event of a bite, clean it out and seek medical treatment. America isn't vampire country, so there's no risk of sustaining nighttime bites from healthy bats. And there's no need to displace bats that are out of people's immediate area - places like barns roofs, or the eaves of buildings.

    Doing so only increases your odds of catching a deadly disease.

    Going to "bat" for crucial critters,

    William Campbell Douglass II, MD

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