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Texas Mandated Vaccine February 5, 2007

Posted by Elaine in Business-Society Issues, pharmaceutical.

Governor Perry of Texas has just passed an executive order requiring school girls in the 6th grade to get vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that causes cerival cancer starting September of 2008. This vaccine, Gardasil, produced by Merck will be $360 a shot, boosting the company’s net income by billions if passed throughout the nation. People are lobbying against this act stating that it violates the rights for parents to make this choice for their kids. The ethical issue lies behind this question: “Does this vaccine promote premarital sex?”

This bill is very controversial for parents, conservatives, and religious groups. Is it telling kids that it is okay to have sex because they are now protected? Is it the same as getting a vaccine for lung cancer and telling kids they are okay to smoke? Does this violate the rights of parents and not giving them a choice to say whether they want their children to be vacinated or not?

I personally think that all girls should get this vaccine (the American Cancer Society estimates that almost 10,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year and more than 3,670 will die). Parents don’t always know what’s best for their children. Sure they might have religious viewpoints, but they are not always shared with their children. Premartial sex may not be approved by them, but sometimes it is inevitable in this society. It is better to be safe than sorry when it deals with a life-death matter.

Do you think Texas should rescind this vaccine order?



1. Kira - February 6, 2007

This is definitely an ethics question in which there are many different points of view with none being right or wrong. There are many different personal, political, and religious reasons that people may have. My question would be when is it right, or is it ever right, for states/courts to make certain decisions for ones children rather than the parents? I think that the vaccine is a great thing for girls to get but, really that decision is up to their parents and their personal beliefs. For example, Christian scientists do not believe in taking medication or getting vaccines- is it okay to force their children to take this vaccine and violate their religious views? I am also curious as to Merck’s position and their ulterior motives.

2. Jordi - March 24, 2007

I always wonder how useful age is in drawing this ethical conclusions. When a Texas female is 18 she can get this vaccine but when she is 17 and 340 days her own rights to control her medical decisions are moot?

Is HPV only transmitted sexually? If there are other transmission possibilities, the whole question gets messier.

And, of course, how many of the 10,000 deaths are going to be the result of incest or rape? What is the ethical argument to let 1, 5, 10,100 of these girls contract the disease and die to balance out the concerns of parents who want to control their daughters’ sexuality?

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