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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 cannot believe how many people here are in favor of forcing people to get this vaccine. I have seen a few Ted videos and assumed that people following this site were free thinking individuals, but by many of the responses here, I must reconsider that thought. After reading these comments, it alarmed me enough to sign up to post on this topic.

    As a free person on this planet, no government or authority should have the right to do anything to me against my will, as long as I am living my life without compromising the liberties of any other people. Cancer is not a contagious disease, it is developed by one's own body. You cannot catch cancer like a cold. You develop cancer as the final stage of your body being polluted by toxins. There is no vaccine which can ever be made to prevent someone from getting cancer either by their own personal habits or by exposure to chemicals or other toxins which would cause someone to have any type of cancer, let alone cervical cancer.

    Follow the money when you want to see the meaning behind anything. The companies making vaccines, Merck in the case of Gardasil, are businesses that rely on sales to make profits to give to their owners and shareholders. To get their vaccines into the market, they pay enormous amounts of money to federal agencies for approval, which then offer government subsidies to have these same drugs given to the public. It is a huge conflict of interest and creates a financial windfall for these companies, as they practically have guaranteed sales of their products by political force.

    Gardasil was "fast tracked" and pushed to market before proper testing could be done and the results to girls given this vaccine may not be fully known for years to come. Please educate yourself by checking alternative, independent sources instead of being blindly fed by the salesmen of a product.

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      Mar 9 2012: The cause of cancer is indeed extremely complex. Your risk for a particular cancer is affected by genetic as well as environmental factors. You are correct in saying that you can't "catch cancer like a cold" (although there have been some extremely interesting cases of directly communicable cancer in Tasmanian Devils http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674%2812%2900081-5)

      However, your risks for a particular cancer can be affected by viral infections. When a virus infects a cell, it can mess with cell cycle regulation, DNA-repair mechanisms, telomerase activity, etc. All of these effects push that particular cell in the direction of becoming cancerous.

      In the case of HPV, about 93% or even more of all cervical cancers are tied to HPV infection. In fact, "the presence of HPV in virtually all cervical cancers implies the highest worldwide attributable fraction so far reported for a specific cause of any major human cancer."

      Source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/%28SICI%291096-9896%28199909%29189:1%3C12::AID-PATH431%3E3.0.CO;2-F/abstract

      This topic is biologically complex, so I understand why it may be confusing.

      Saying cancer is not communicable is mostly correct. Analogously, AIDS isn't communicable either. It is the viruses that causes these disease states that are.

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