Mandatory HPV vaccine may be unwarranted

Nov. 13, 2008 at 11:30 PM
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BALTIMORE, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- A group of U.S. researchers suggests it is premature for states to mandate the human papillomavirus vaccine as a condition for school attendance.

The HPV vaccine, sold as Gardasil in the United States, is intended to prevent four strains of HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. The vaccine also prevents against cervical cancer.

Gail Javitt, Dr. Deena Berkowitz and Lawrence O. Gostin assert that Gardasil is relatively new and long-term safety and effectiveness in the general population is unknown. Outcomes of those voluntarily vaccinated should be followed for several years before mandates are imposed, the researchers said.

In the article, published in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, the researchers argue that the HPV vaccine does not represent a public health necessity of the type that has justified previous vaccine mandates, so constitutional concerns are raised. It is possible that state mandates could lead to a public backlash that will undermine both HPV vaccination efforts and existing vaccination programs, the researchers said.

The article notes that the economic consequences of mandating HPV are significant and could have a negative impact on financial support for other vaccines, as well as other public health programs.

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