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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: Not to open up a huge can of worms near the very end of this great conversation...but I feel like the decision on whether to obtain an HPV vaccine is something that women (and children along with their parents) need to decide on their own. While I know that this pertains to a matter of public safety, I feel the same way about the HPV vaccine as I do about abortion. It should be up to the individual (or in the case of a minor, the individual and their guardian). No one likes to be told what to do, and this is no different, so I think we should focus on educating the public about HPV and the vaccine and give them the information so they can make that decision for themselves.
    • Mar 8 2012: While I feel strongly that the vaccine should be mandatory if it is safe and healthy, I also totally understand why other people believe that it should be up to the individual to choose. In that regard I think educating young people about it would be a good way to encourage peoeple to receive the vaccination. I just struggle with the thought that peoples loved ones might die due to something that is treatable.
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        Mar 9 2012: I too feel that education should be our number 1 priority. People need to understand both sides of the story and decide for themselves. I wonder how much time and money that would take. would it be cheaper and safer just to mandate? By safer I mean, by the time we have educated people to the point of making a decision sometime in the future the virus might become an even bigger problem than it would have been. Just a thought. What do you think?

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