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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 8 2012: I feel that sometimes people need to be told what is right and what is wrong. Though, nothing is ever that black and white. There are a few select things in life that seem like an absolute necessity and I feel that vaccination against a "killer virus" ,as you called it ,is that necessity. I completely agree with the argument that people need to be educated about such dangers but sometimes that isn't enough. When we say that people should be able to make their own decisions as to whether they want to protect themselves from such a virus or not; we think of the responsible people but, what about the rest of the population. What about those people who don't always make the correct decisions for their own well being? Should the rest just pay the price for others' mistakes? I personally believe that women or men should get vaccinated for their own selfish reason of protecting themselves not because they're being told to.

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