Human Biology

Taking Sides Readings

Issue Number 11, Should Vaccination for HPV Be Mandated For Teenage Girls

Affirmative. Joseph E. Balog:  Compulsory HPV vaccinations can be justified on moral, scientific, and public health grounds

Negative. Gail Javitt, Deena Berkowitz, and Lawrence O. Gostin.   Mandating HPV is premature given the current data and risk.

The affirmative, Balog, states that over 18.3% of adolescent girls are infected with HPV and over 46% of high school students have sexual intercourse by the time they graduate and 75% of young people have sexual intercourse before they marry.  The negative states that the vaccines do not treat all carcinogenic HPV types and may be replaced by other types. Further, they state there may be a profit motive driven lobbying from Merck (the drug manufacturer) may be what’s influencing HPV vaccination mandates instead of public health goals.

The affirmative believes that the value of the autonomy of the child should be greater than that of the parents.  They also believe that it is unjust for children to be exposed to STIs like HPV and compulsory vaccination is some sort of justice.  The negative believes that precedencies set by previous vaccination mandates are not met by the HPV vaccination.  They also believe that public backlash about perceived unnecessary mandates can cause parents to reject warranted vaccinations in the future.

The affirmative attempts to justify his position morally while using points that may be considered unethical or immoral.  They discuss the value of the liberty of some individuals while dismissing the value of liberty of others.

The negative justifies many parts of their position based on hypothesis.  For example, they state the possible problems of HPV vaccinations in the future without concrete historical or empirical data to back it up.

The affirmative appears to be the most empirical in presenting their information, particularly with the statistics of current infections and youth promiscuity.

Both of the writers appear to have rational and unbiased points regarding their position.

I feel the negative is the most correct after reviewing these materials.  They correctly identify that the HPV vaccination is not the same as the Polio vaccination by identifying that the HPV vaccination is not a “public health necessity” as rationalized in the Jacabson v. Massachussetts (1905) case.  Simply going on legal precedent, HPV vaccination mandates do not meet those conditions and do not justify the erosion of autonomy of any given group.

This assignment was a good exercise in reading, understanding, and dissecting two different points of views on a given topic. I feel this is an important process for any individual and it’s a shame that many people’s opinions in today’s society aren’t based on this type of procedure..