Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mandating a new vaccine

The NY Times reports:
Racing to embrace a new vaccine, at least 20 states are considering mandatory inoculation of young girls against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

State Legislation on a Cervical Cancer Vaccine But a roaring backlash has some health experts worried that the proponents, including the vaccine's maker, Merck, have pushed too far too fast, potentially undermining eventual prospects for the broadest possible immunization. ...

Some of the bills, despite calling for compulsory vaccination, have "opt out" provisions, letting parents citing religious or moral grounds to choose not to have their daughters inoculated. Those provisions also have raised concerns among public health experts.

"A lot of us are concerned that if you allow people to opt out of one vaccine, they will opt out of other vaccines that are due at the same time," said Dr. Mark Myers, executive director of the National Network for Immunization Information ( ...

The American Academy of Pediatrics is not advocating mandatory Gardasil vaccination, either. One source of opposition from pediatricians is cost. Buying enough H.P.V. vaccine for 100 girls would require a practice to lay out nearly $40,000 in advance.
This is all about money. Those supporting the vaccine are those who are getting paid to support the vaccine. The main arguments for mandating the vaccine are to reduce Merck's marketing costs, and to trigger subsidies.

The vaccine looks like it may be a worthwhile vaccine for many people, but there is no good reason to make it mandatory. We live in a society where people are free to make their own medical and financial decisions. People voluntarily pay market prices for flu shots, and it should be up to Merck to convice the public that the benefits are worth the cost and risk.

No comments: