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Srdjan Kamenko

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When it comes to vaccine intervention for disease control, should personal liberty go before the benefit to society?

This question is extremely important when one considers current news on the Human Papillomavirus vaccine. The main vaccine, Gardasil, has been widely used on women ages 9-26 since its introduction in 2006. The vaccine first made waves in 2007 when Texas governor Rick Perry issued an executive order to mandate the vaccine for all young women in Texas. Even though it was met with much opposition and ultimately failed, the question still remained: should we have a mandatory HPV vaccine for all women? The two sides of the argument clash, each bringing significant evidence to bear on the issue. Mathematical models indicate that with a vaccine as effective as this one (about 100%), mandating the vaccine will stamp out the virus types targeted by the vaccine. HPV is the most common STI with 45% of college age women currently infected. Freeing society of such a dangerous virus, the number one cause of cervical cancer, is a highlight of the pro-mandate argument. The opposition suggests that personal liberty is at stake, and that parents should have the choice to vaccinate their children if they believe the vaccine is worth it for them. What do you think? Is it reasonable to limit personal liberty for the good of the community in the face of a spreading killer virus?

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  • Mar 7 2012: Not eating chocolate doesn't infect other people and give them cancer. Big difference.
    A lot of people are talking about abortion or contraception as examples of personal choice and using those instances for analogy here - but those choices don't affect other people in the same way that choosing not to get vaccinated does. HPV is a case when your choice not to get vaccinated can directly infect and even kill many other people, not just yourself.
    I totally agree that the cost of this vaccine is a problem, and that in needs to be dispersed in such a way that the cost to the individual citizen is reduced, but in the spirit of preventative medicine I am sure that this mandated measure would actually reduce the healthcare costs attributed to infection with the HPV virus and cancer for the infected individuals later in life.

    We should force as a final solution in a debate when the alternative is the infection and possible death of millions of people due to misconceptions and ridiculous fear mongering by the uneducated and misinformed.
    I completely agree, however, that education on the subject is by far the preferred method of prevention.

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