Sarah Palin's Alaska Took Federal Funds to Increase Access to Gardasil

In 2006, Sarah Palin was elected governor of the great state of Alaska. In June of 2007, Alaska accepted federal funding to boost access to Gardasil, the HPV vaccine.


( Juneau, Alaska) ─ The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced today that an increase in federal funding will make it possible for all Alaska girls ages 9 through 18 to receive Gardasil ®, the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, at no cost.

At no direct cost, perhaps. But being federally funded, it had a cost. Millions of Americans outside Alaska bore that cost, involuntarily.

Earlier this spring, the department had said it could provide free Gardasil only to Alaska girls who met certain eligibility requirements. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided additional funds for Alaska to obtain more vaccine. This boost in federal aid will enable more Alaska girls to receive Gardasil. Distribution of this vaccine to providers is just beginning, so state health officials suggest calling providers before visiting local clinics to find out if the vaccine is available.

“We are thrilled that this unanticipated funding will allow us to provide the vaccine for all eligible girls,” said Laurel Wood, Alaska’s immunization program manager. “Although we have no guarantee that this funding will be available in future years, we hope to immunize as many Alaska girls as possible while we have this unique opportunity.”

The federal government approved Gardasil last summer to prevent certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) known to cause cervical cancer. Gardasil is the most expensive vaccine recommended today, with a retail cost of at least $360 for three shots given over six months.

The CDC recommends the vaccine for girls and women 9 through 26 years old, but the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services only has funding to cover the vaccine for those ages 9 through 18. Women ages 19 through 26 may be able to receive some coverage through Medicaid, their health insurance companies or a special financial aid program set up by Merck & Co. Inc., the vaccine’s manufacturer.

The additional federal money for Alaska also means the department can expand availability of Menactra ®, the vaccine that protects against bacterial meningitis. Although the department previously provided Menactra only for limited age groups, it now will make the vaccine available at no cost for boys and girls ages 11 through 18.


Major thanks to commenter JAO for noting this.

This isn’t quite the same thing as mandating (and being overturned on, so it didn’t actually happen) a vaccination, but taking federal funds for Gardasil doesn’t quite square with Palin’s hot shots at Perry on Fox last night. I admire Sarah Palin quite a bit (and Bachmann too), but aligning herself with Bachmann’s precious bodily fluids gambit is a huge mistake on her part. Both of them are flaming their own credibility over an issue that, in the grand view of things, ought not to matter much. It hasn’t mattered much to some of the most conservative voters in America, over three gubernatorial elections running now. Both Palin and Bachmann are coming off as ill informed, unreasonable and desperate.

Here’s the thing. Barack Obama is an unmitigated disaster as president. His Save My Own Job Act is an expensive mess that will end up hurting the economy even more if it’s passed (which it won’t be, at least not in toto). The GOP primary should be about him and his failures. Credit to Newt Gingrich for consistently insisting that that be the focus of the GOP debate, not side chases down rabbit trails that have no impact on saving the nation from Obama. Discredit goes to those who risk turning the GOP primary into a freak show.


Update: Added a link to Palin’s comments on Fox, above.

Update: So this is a “stupid” x3 attack on Palin now? But it’s not stupid to ignore a pile of science and claim that Gardasil caused mental retardation in a 12-year-old on national TV, for the purposes of opportunistic political attacks?


I’m also accused of accusing Palin of “crony capitalism,” though I never make that accusation at all.


Funny thing. This post wasn’t even intended as an “attack” on Palin, whom I admire. Its intent is to point out that Gardasil isn’t quite the monster that Bachmann is making it out to be, and that when Palin had the power she in fact increased access to it. I thought that was clear in the post above, but evidently it wasn’t clear enough for some to grasp. It helps sometimes to leave the cup o’ rage on the table and take in a few facts first.

The crony capitalism charge against Perry strikes me as flimsy. It would’ve been ridiculous to have leveled it against Palin. But I didn’t do that.


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