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Author Topic: The Cancer Vaccine
Carlotta
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I was listening to talk radio in the car today and heard one talk show debating the new (in Texas) mandatory HPV vaccine required for all 6th grade girls. I came to a realization: the controversy surrounding this vaccnine isn't about vaccines at all. There was no controversy (at least none outside of the anti-vaccination camp) about the new chickenpox (varicella) vaccine. The reason the HPV vaccine is an issue is because of what it is for: a sexually transmissted disease. The question of whether or not we should require parents to vaccinate sixth graders for a sexually transmitted disease is along the same lines as whether condoms should be passed out to students. Anyone disagree with me here? I mean, I'm all for debate about this issue, but let's at least be honest about what the issue really is. It's not really about the safety of vaccinations, or whether (as the talk show host was arguing) the State of Texas is setting itself up for lawsuits when vaccinated women still come down with cervical cancer.

I make no bones about it, I am not a fan of the legislation. Although my daughter is only three, and I have plenty of time to think about it, my first thought would be that since I believe that the consequences of premature sex are much greater than anything that could be prevented by a vaccine or contraceptive, but harm children psychologically and emotionally, that I am going to raise my daughter in such a way so that it will be improbable that she would be having sex in 6th grade. (Heck, my parents raised us that way, and all 5 of us are happy normal people today.) So unless it became apparent that she was at high risk for contracting an STD, I don't see the point in vaccinating her for it.

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martel
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Sorry...how's it a vaccine for an STD?
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Everard
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At 6th grade, very very few girls are going to be having sex. But over the following 6 years, about half of those girls probably will be sexually active. And HPV is highly contagious, so you don't actually need to have sex to get it. Manual stimulation can be enough to transmit. And HPV is not uncommon... its present in about 50% of the population.

Mandatory vaccinations aren't about preventing one person from getting a disease, they are about preventing epidemics. HPV is an epidemic waiting to happen, and mandatory vaccinations could STOP that epidemic. As it is, the liklihood is that even if your daughter does not have premarital sex, shes at high risk for getting HPV.

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MattP
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Do the girls who's parents are less sure about the ability to raise a virtuous (and rape-proof?) daughter deserve immunity more than your daughter?
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Gaoics79
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quote:
I was listening to talk radio in the car today and heard one talk show debating the new (in Texas) mandatory HPV vaccine required for all 6th grade girls. I came to a realization: the controversy surrounding this vaccnine isn't about vaccines at all. There was no controversy (at least none outside of the anti-vaccination camp) about the new chickenpox (varicella) vaccine. The reason the HPV vaccine is an issue is because of what it is for: a sexually transmissted disease. The question of whether or not we should require parents to vaccinate sixth graders for a sexually transmitted disease is along the same lines as whether condoms should be passed out to students. Anyone disagree with me here? I mean, I'm all for debate about this issue, but let's at least be honest about what the issue really is. It's not really about the safety of vaccinations, or whether (as the talk show host was arguing) the State of Texas is setting itself up for lawsuits when vaccinated women still come down with cervical cancer.
Sorry, but I don't think mandatory HPV vaccinations is anything like handing out condoms. When you hand out condoms, you are making a very clear signal to kids that you expect them to have sex, and you are actively fascilitating their having sex by handing them a tangible object designed to permit them to have sexual activity.

An HPV vaccine is just a shot (or a pill or whatever) and it's done. You don't even need to tell the kids what it is. It's pretty improbable that the fact that you gave a kid a shot once in 6th grade is going to effect that child's decision to have sex down the road. Although it's conceivable that the knowledge that he can't get a specific sexually transmitted disease may have some indirect effect on a child's decision to have sex down the road, this is a big stretch.

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martel
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So then they can get the vaccine themselves, if that's the only issue. Ev's right that vaccinations are only used to stop epidemics. But, uh, if 50% of the population has it, doesn't that qualify it as an epidemic?

Edited to add: GAAH jason posted before me, but this is a response to Matt.

[ February 06, 2007, 09:36 PM: Message edited by: martel ]

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MattP
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quote:
So then they can get the vaccine themselves, if that's the only issue. Ev's right that vaccinations are only used to stop epidemics. But, uh, if 50% of the population has it, doesn't that qualify it as an epidemic?
I think there is an additional state interest in that the state has a responsibility to protect it's citizens. We have laws against endangering children, so mandating vaccination is not a leap.

Besides, I don't want the poor girl down the street to die from a terrible disease because she failed to live up to her parents expectations of chastity.

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Carlotta
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The controversy isn't that the vaccine is available (a series of 3 shots plus boosters from what little I know) but that it is now being made mandatory.

MattP, I'm not sure what you're asking, but it sounds like a pertinent point. Could you rephrase your question?

Everard, I'm going to raise my daughter not only to not have actual sex but also other risky activities. It's not just intercourse that I consider emotionally damaging for children! I do believe this is feasible, since my parents did it. They knew our friends, who we were with, and made sure there was always an adults around. No boys in the bedroom with the doors closed. Stuff like that.

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TommySama
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So.... you feel that the states making the shot mandatory undermines the way you want to raise your daughter(s?)

With condoms, maybe. But a shot? I agree with Jason that it won't make a difference. HPV isn't exactly up on the scale of things people are worried about when they become sexually active.

Anybody think its different with girls? It isn't with any I know, but what do I know, I'm a guy. My gut tells me that most people don't think that far ahead. Most kids are more worried about becoming pregnant, or herpes.

Besides, if your daughter slips up once and "manually stimulates" somebody, she could become infected.

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MattP
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quote:
MattP, I'm not sure what you're asking, but it sounds like a pertinent point. Could you rephrase your question?
If you don't believe your child will misbehave in a way that puts her at risk, then allowing your child to be vaccinated will not change that.

On the other hand, if you refuse to vaccinate her, then any number of events may possibly expose her to the virus which may lead to cancer. I remember kids "frolicking" on the bus on school trips, during lunch, or in the stands at a football game (marching band members - no adults sitting with them). These were all good kids with interested parents with a religious motivation for protecting their chastity, but those interested parents can't monitor every minute of every day in their children's lives.

You speak of graver consequences for premarital sex. Do you believe that they are more grave than death? Wouldn't death cut short the time available for one to repent of such sins?

What about girls who are raped or sexually molested? Should all of the girls in this group who are raised by parents who felt they weren't likely to be infected by the virus possibly have to face cancer as a consequence of their parents' incorrect prognostication?

[ February 06, 2007, 10:19 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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PanHeraclitean
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Tommy, as I've heard the HPV vaccine is not only unnecessary vaccination for non-sexually active women, but it also hasn't been around long enough to know long term effects.
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DonaldD
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Carlotta, if I understand you correctly, you do NOT want you daughter to be innoculated against HPV.

But why? Even if HPV wasn't otherwise transmissable, do you actually want your daughter to contract the disease if she fails in your expectations?

If there were a vaccine today against the bacteria that cause dental caries, would you not want her to get it because she might fail in her brushing habits?

As others have stated, she doesn't even need to know what all the vaccinations she receives as a child are for. And regardless, it's unlikely that a couple of shots are going to make a teenager feel any more indestructible than they already do.

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MattP
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As Carlotta pointed out, the main objection here is over the religious/moral implications, not risk from exposure to the vaccine itself.
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Funean
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I disagree with making the vaccine mandatory when it's this new. We don't know how it will perform over time yet, especially when we're talking about using it on children, with their mutable little bodies.

That aside, knowing as many women with cervical dysplasia as I do (a form of precancerous lesion that is a byproduct of one form of HPV), I will certainly have my daughter vaccinated when she's older, provided that the vaccine proves safe and effective over the next few years.

I see absolutely no disadvantage to having multiple layers of protection (bringing her up to understand and avoid risky and irresponsible exercises of her sexuality being a primary tool in my arsenal as well), especially given something as ridiculously transmittable as HPV. It's almost as easy to contract as athlete's foot, being a rather hardy little virus.

Also, I don't believe that having a safety net in place below the high wire makes the person on the high wire any more or less cognizant of their altitude. I'd hate for a moment of adolescent stupidity, emotional acting out, or spousal infidelity to put my child at risk for any kind of STD or other health issue, if it's one I can provide some additional protection against.

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DonaldD
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Pan, the issue that Carlotta had raised in the original post was specifically the moral question, not on the vaccine's safety or efficacy: "the controversy surrounding this vaccnine isn't about vaccines at all"
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Carlotta
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You are bringing up good arguments for the vaccine. My mind is by no means made up, and these are arguments also brought up by my very pro-life, anti-contraception, earth-mother-feminist friend. I don't think STDs should be a weapon to threaten kids into chastity. I wouldn't wish anyone to die of a preventable disesase because "they deserved it" by engaging in behaviors I personally disapprove of.

My two issues are this (I think I was a little unclear.)
1. Let's agree on what the issue behind all the hoopla really is. It's not a contraversy because it's a new vaccine, it's because it's an STD vaccine.
2a. All vaccines have risks. This is a fact. In most cases the benefits outweigh the risks. However I do not believe that the risks of a relatively new vaccine are outweighed by the benefits of having a person with low-risk behaviors vaccinated. I do not believe that my daughter is at high risk. If she began to be high-risk, then I would re-evaluate. That is for my own children.
2b. Making the vaccine mandatory only makes sense if the benefits outweigh the risks in the majority of the population. Can anyone demonstrate that this is the case?

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DonaldD
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The question of safety is of course primary. One Ornery member's family has been seriously affected by something similar, and risks are always present.

Here is a link to the CDC page: HPV Vaccine

The vaccine has been tested extensively worlwide, and by the time your daughter is old enough to be vaccinated, you will have a lot more information at your disposal.

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Carlotta
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That's true, and I'm glad I have quite a few years to think about it. I'll check out the link.
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0Megabyte
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Funean basically said anything that I could have thought of at the moment about it.

Perhaps, when I have kids, I'll make sure they have such a vaccine. Though, Carlotta, don't jump off the bridge just because we're doing it! Only do so if it's actually a good idea, regardless of what we do. [Big Grin]

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ender wiggin
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Here the problem:

to be effective, the vaccine must be given before the girl becomes sexually active.

Parents are in charge of thier children's medical care untill the age of 18.

Most women have thier first expereince before or around the age of 18.

The parents can't make an informed decision about thier child's risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease because they will be the last to know about thier childs sexuall activity. So, even if they have the best intentions, they really can't make the best decision, because they don't have the best information.

But in the same vein, it shouldn't be mandatory because we don't know the long term affects. And people who are chaste really don't needit.

The only solution is to allow the girls to make thier own decisions, without parental consent, at say, age 16. Because they make thier own sexual decisions anyway, they should be allowed to make thier own decisions about protection.

[ February 07, 2007, 12:02 AM: Message edited by: ender wiggin ]

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TommySama
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I'll concede it shouldn't be mandatory until the risk factors are better known. I didn't realize there were risked associated with vaccinations (anyone care to explain??) other than the obvious one.
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DonaldD
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Types of vaccines and related info (including disadvantages/risks)
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MattP
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Any time you inject something in your body, there is a risk that the thing you inject will do something other than what you want or expect it to do.
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The Drake
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Of course it is about the need for the vaccine with respect to particular girls. If you are a non-sex-having girl, it is largely worthless, expensive, and potentially has side effects.

I categorically reject the idea that the state has the right to force any medicine or vaccination upon the recipient.

That goes for chicken pox, mumps, and tuberculosis.

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TommySama
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DD I didn't see anything about specific dangers, other than how you can get the antigen you're being immunized for if it isn't properly made, but thats true of all vaccinations
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martel
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...I think there's a difference between chicken pox and HPV. HPV, while mildly infectious, is really not a risk unless some form of sexual activity is undertaken. Chicken pox can be dangerous to small children or old people, and is transmitted much more easily. So it happens often that someone engaged in nothing particular gets it (happened to me when I was a kid.) It is capable of spreading quickly (when I got it, my whole family got it.)

Slight difference, although I do understand your point. It goes back to the old to what degree should the government protect you from yourself, and I agree with you.

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DonaldD
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There's also the risk of impurities (depending on the type of vaccine) allergic reactions and specific sensitivities and generally the unknown factor. When making a decision, you need to take that into consideration (even if it's true of all vaccines)

I agree that the vaccine discussed here is one of the more safe types.

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KnightEnder
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Donald, The first think I thought of was Pete, too.

Tommy, there have been some very very bad side-effects to standard vaccines given out by our government. Search "Pete's son".

Side-effects would be my only objection.

It amazes me how many men are POSITIVE that their wife would never cheat on them, and how many women are POSITIVE that their husband would never cheat on them! Who are these people doing it then? Why is the divorce rate so high? Why do we have a problem with teen pregnancy?

My boys are 14 and 17, both respectful, well minded boys who make good grades in school and we know where they are at all times. No girls alone in the bedroom, etc. But I still prepare for the worst. I educate them and take every precaution I can, because nobody is ever 100% sure.

I was an honor student that said yes sir and no sir clean cut, quarterback (my father was a police officer), and I was having sex at twelve years old. (My mother had no idea until a few years ago when my sister and I were discussing our childhood. She was shocked and horrified at how oblivious she had been.)

KE

[ February 07, 2007, 07:33 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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LoverOfJoy
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Sorry KE, you lost me at quarterback. I thought all quarterbacks were sex addicts...however clean cut yes sir no sir they were. [Wink]
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Colin JM0397
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The question to be addressed hasn't really even come up yet. It's not a question if you think it's a good vaccine or not, if you want your daughter to have it or not.

What right do you have, through the power of the state, to force me and my daughter to receive an inoculation?

I don't know about Texas state law, but, for me, that one sets off a little warning in my head... Something about being secure in your person, property, and papers.

The efficacy or risk of a particular vaccine is moot point. Under that rationale, we can ban junk food, be like NYC and ban all trans fats, outlaw smoking, mandate everyone take a daily vitamin, exercise for at least 30 min daily, and so on.

I'm deeply troubled that, so far, I've only seen one objection based on what to me is the only question that matters.

Is there any legal justification for the state to mandate something like this?

I’m further irked that, to me, this seems to be a foot in the door ploy to see how the public reacts to things like a mandatory vaccine. Today HPV for girls, tomorrow who knows what the government will decide we need for our own good. Current guidelines for school districts say your kid must have a myriad of shots to attend public schools – over 30 in Texas, IIRC (what they don’t tell you is this isn’t actually a law and you don’t have to follow it), so why not just add the HPV to the list for girls? Why the push to take this to the next level and make it really mandatory?

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DonaldD
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That's 'cause Carlotta's original topic seemed to exclude that as her point of interest/focus (and the thread seemed to evolve from there.)

Certainly, mandatory vaccines laws are nothing new. Polio used to be pandemic. Although making a small comeback recently (law was rolled back years ago?) polio is almost unheard of.

Part of the argument in support of mandatory vaccination is that by being a carrier of a disease you put others at risk. This may be through no fault of your own, it does not require bad motive, but it is fact for many diseases.

Here's an article from the Center for Disease Control.

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LinuxFreakus
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Another thing to consider is that when it boils down to it, the reason they are making the vaccine mandatory has nothing to do with protecting the children. It is all about money. Once it is mandatory, then drug companies charge a lot more money and everyone still has to get it, and they profit. That is all they really care about.

I think it is outrageous to make it mandatory. I think the HPV vaccine seems safe and effective, and I think people should use it, but it should not be a legal requirement.

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DonaldD
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LF, are you talking about mandatory vaccination in general, or the Texas HPV law in particular?

The costs associated with the polio disease dwarfed those of implementing a worldwide polio vaccination program.

And I wouldn't be surprised to see the per use cost of these vaccinations drop with greater demand, although that seems counter-intuitive.

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Carlotta
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Sorry to have limited the topic! I'm actually concerned about several facets of this. I haven't heard whether this is more mandatory than the other "mandatory" vaccinations. I do vaccinate my kids but I have friends who don't and they just have to fill out a form. It can be problematic though if they want to send their kids to private schools, because while public schools are required to accept waivers, private ones are not. I do think it is within the rights of the private schools to not accept vaccine waivers though. Eventually I'll have to look into this because at this point I do not plan on giving this vaccine to my kids unless they appear to be high risk, and I also don't plan on vaccinating my future kids against chickenpox, based on what I read about the risks of the vaccine v.s. the disease.

What I heard is that part of making it mandatory is so that insurance companies and medic-are/aid (I never can keep them straight) will pay for it. Personally I think that's a sloppy way of going about it - to make it mandatory just so it will be covered. We should have a separate list for "recommended" or something.

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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
LF, are you talking about mandatory vaccination in general, or the Texas HPV law in particular?

The costs associated with the polio disease dwarfed those of implementing a worldwide polio vaccination program.

And I wouldn't be surprised to see the per use cost of these vaccinations drop with greater demand, although that seems counter-intuitive.

I'm talking in general. I understand the need to vaccinate, but I think it is still important that people have the option to object if they feel strongly enough, even if is hard to get out of it. I just don't think it should be *forced*.
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Carlotta
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LF, do you know if the HPV law is different than the other mandatory vaccine laws? (Are people not going to have the ability to opt out?)

The other thing I forgot put, though it may not be pertinent anymore, is that the government (i.e., the people of a society) does have a vested interest in the health of its citizens, and if someone's parenting is harming their child significantly the government can step in. Also, there's the idea of herd immunity - that if a certain threshold of people are vaccinated, it will effectively wipe out the disease, protecting even those who are not vaccinated. Since there are children for whom other health problems make it extremely risky for them to receive vaccinations, for those parents it really does put their child at risk for you not to vaccinate yours. Then again, it is up to me as a parent to make the best decision I know for my child, and if I decide that a vaccination presents too high a risk for my child, the other kid's parents shouldn't be able to compel me to put my kid at risk in order to protect theirs. I welcome any thoughts on this since I'm just now starting to research it.

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MattP
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quote:
Then again, it is up to me as a parent to make the best decision I know for my child, and if I decide that a vaccination presents too high a risk for my child, the other kid's parents shouldn't be able to compel me to put my kid at risk in order to protect theirs.
I believe that vaccination is a social duty. When a vaccine for a serious infectious disease has been demonstrated to be minimally risky, it is unfair for some individuals to shield themselves from that minimal risk based on their knowledge that enough of their contemporaries have been vaccinated that they are unlikely to be exposed.

I believe there are some risks to vaccinations, but I also believe the research that indicates that the likelihood of an individual experiencing serious side effects is very small; on the same order as my kids getting killed in the car on the way to the doctor's office.

I think the fear of vaccinations is largely a matter of the unfamiliarity of the act. Statistically speaking, we engage in many more risky endeavors throughout our lives and allow our children to do the same, but the million-to-one chance of our child being killed by a vaccine seems so much more frightening than the 20000-to-one chance that they'll die in a car accident this year.

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TaoJeannes
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quote:
Originally posted by jm0397:
Is there any legal justification for the state to mandate something like this?

I’m further irked that, to me, this seems to be a foot in the door ploy to see how the public reacts to things like a mandatory vaccine. Today HPV for girls, tomorrow who knows what the government will decide we need for our own good.

Thank you. This is EXACTLY what I was thinking.

We mandate vaccines for things that can potentially cause community-wide pandemics. Cancer can't do that.

So leave the STD issue out of it. Mandating a cancer vaccine is nothing short of cutting off a liberty for "our own good". It's a MASSIVE overstepping of government boundaries.

I'd rather see what has happened with many other types of vaccinations: They are voluntarily mandated by organizations such as colleges before entry is allowed.

Unrelated Question: Does an HPV vaccine work on guys too? I know they obviously can't get cervical cancer, but you'd think it would still be nice to know you can't infect someone else.

[ February 08, 2007, 02:22 PM: Message edited by: TaoJeannes ]

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MattP
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quote:
What about vaccinating males?

We do not yet know if the vaccine is effective in boys or men. Studies are now being done to find out if the vaccine works to prevent HPV infection and disease in males. When more information is available, this vaccine may be licensed and recommended for boys/men as well.

http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vaccine/hpv/hpv-faqs.htm
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MattP
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On what "mandatory" means in the contested Texas legislation:

quote:
The bills would require girls to have received the vaccine to enter the sixth grade, but include opt-out provisions.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4459579.html

It sounds to me like it's being treated like other vaccines where parents still have the ultimate say.

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