Is Mandating Cancer Prevention Vaccination Now Ethical?

HPV vaccine Gardasil 9 now approved for both genders between the ages of 9 and 45 years old

woman reading her ipad about new information

When the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was released over a decade ago, there was opposition among bioethics to mandate this cancer prevention vaccine. 

Given recent news, 2 of the original concerns may have become obsolete. 

On October 5, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine for people between 9 and 45 years of age, and for both genders.   

Which means gender and age discriminatory concerns have been removed from this debate. 

"Preventing cancer with a vaccine is a dream come true as a healthcare provider. Even more people can benefit from this life-saving therapy,”  said Michelle Beall Pharm.D. Clinical Pharmacist, MTM and Immunization Specialist for Brookshire Grocery Company.

“I highly encourage anyone from 9 to 45 years of age to ask their pharmacist about receiving this vaccine. Protect yourself and protect your loved ones, “ continued Beall.

During July 2018, an article published in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics addressed these points and makes the case in support of the HPV vaccination mandate.   

The study author argued that mandatory vaccination is a moral imperative, primarily because it is in the best interest of the children receiving it.   

Since approximately 14 million Americans become infected with HPV each year, this issue impacts a vast segment of society, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

HPV causes the majority of cases of cervical cancer, as well as most cases of anal, oropharyngeal, and vaginal cancers. 

Among critics of the mandate, remaining concerns include potential violation of patient and parental autonomy, said this commentary. 

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“However, if our ultimate goal is to look after the best interests of the child, who will be directly affected by the vaccination decision, we cannot take for granted that parents will always make the choice that is in their child's best interest,” wrote Michelle J. Bayefsky, B.A., a medical student at Harvard Medical School. 

Secondary points in the moral case for mandatory vaccination include ‘herd-immunity’ solidarity, which “requires that we make minor sacrifices for the good of the community and the most vulnerable among us,” and health equity. 

Research published in 2017 supported the positive impact on communities of ‘HPV vaccinations’.   

Bayefsky concluded this essay saying ‘ that we have a moral imperative to protect children from the leading cause of cervical cancer, and that mandating HPV vaccination is the best way to ensure that children of all backgrounds receive the vaccine before they have been exposed to the virus.’

Previous HPV cancer news:

To easily schedule an HPV vaccination appointment, please visit this page.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vaccine Price List provides HPV vaccine prices for general information.

And vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.