Mandatory HPV Vaccination and Political Debate
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in 2006, American society had a fierce political debate about whether to enact a compulsory vaccination law as a public health intervention. It was not only the conservative religious groups strongly opposed the mandate, arguing it would condone premarital sex and undermine parental rights, but also the public had doubts about lawmakers’ objectivity as well as the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, due to the lobbying and political donation from the vaccine manufacturer. On the other hand, numerous medical and public health organizations endorse HPV vaccination for young women, believing the clinical trial evidence has shown that the vaccine is almost 100% effective in preventing infections associated with HPV types included in the vaccine. However, the vaccine implementation aroused debates about gender equity and health care cost and made the situation more complicate. This article argues that governments should commit sufficient funding to increase HPV vaccination rates as part of a comprehensive sexually transmitted infection prevention package. If voluntary vaccination proves unsuccessful, governments should consider compulsory vaccination laws seriously, but how to retrieve public trust through health education campaign and social marketing should also take into consideration.