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J Law Med Ethics. 2018 Jun;46(2):501-510. doi: 10.1177/1073110518782957.

The Ethical Case for Mandating HPV Vaccination.

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Michelle J. Bayefsky, B.A., is a medical student at Harvard Medical School. Previously she was a post-baccalaureate fellow in the Department of Bioethics of the National Institutes of Health, where her work focused on topics related to reproduction, genomics policy, and public health.


When the HPV vaccine was released over a decade ago, there was intense opposition to mandating the vaccine, including among bioethics and legal scholars. Some of the original concerns are now obsolete, while other objections continue to present an obstacle to mandating the vaccine. This essay responds to earlier critiques of mandatory HPV vaccination and offers a series of arguments in support of a vaccine mandate. The first section briefly addresses initial concerns that are no longer relevant. The second section makes the ethical case for mandating HPV vaccination, based on three principles: 1) the best interests of children, 2) solidarity, and 3) health equity. The final section addresses concerns related to implementation of the vaccine, including the validity of linking vaccination to school entry. The essay concludes 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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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