Should the HPV Vaccine be Mandatory?



After several years of widespread public backlash, the state of New York is still working to make the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine mandatory for school entry.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the US and is believed to be the leading cause of cervical cancer.  In 2006, the US FDA approved Merck’s Gardasil as a vaccine against 4 types of HPV, and GlaxoSmithKline’s bivalent Cervarix was approved in 2009.  Almost immediately after receiving FDA approval, Merck began a widespread lobbying campaign for the vaccine to be required for school entry.  Opponents to the legislation across the country included not only those against vaccines in general and religious groups such as Family Research Council, but also many parents who would like to have a choice and are concerned with Big Pharma’s lobbying to make the vaccine mandatory.  Yet even with such widespread resistance to mandatory vaccination, NY in 2013 is still trying to push legislation through the NY assembly.

The HPV vaccine school entry requirement does not appear to represent a public health necessity of the type that has justified earlier vaccine school entry requirements; mandating the HPV vaccine can lead to public backlash not only against the HPV vaccine, but also other vaccine programs.  Parents may be more likely to support vaccinating their children with this vaccine if they are educated about the need, safety and efficacy of the vaccine instead of feeling forced into its use by policy makers who have been heavily influenced by the manufacturer of one of the available vaccines.  New York may want to follow Florida and Georgia where legislation has been proposed to mandate education of parents and guardians of adolescents on HPV and the vaccine, instead of requiring the vaccine itself for school entry.





One Response to “Should the HPV Vaccine be Mandatory?”

  1. dmd4b8 Says:

    Thank you for this interesting post. While I agree that Big Pharma lobbying to make a vaccine mandatory for school entry is sketchy, I think that there could be some value to making the HPV vaccine mandatory, assuming that we can prove the vaccine decreases the incidence of penile and cervical cancer to a great enough extent to cover the cost of vaccinating all of the school children in the US. Although Americans do not like the government intruding on their lives, if the government (federal or state) is paying the cost of treatment (via medicare/medicaid/etc) for preventable cervical and penile cancers, then perhaps they should get a say. Again, I believe that further research into this is necessary before anyone proposes to make the HPV vaccine mandatory.

    Proposed ways to track changes in HPV prevalence include

    Current screening for HPV and primary prevention with the vaccine in the US and Canada.

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