, Newburyport, MA


April 10, 2012

Mandating vaccinations not black and white

To the editor:

Being a teenage girl, it is hard to not hear the hype about Gardasil and other vaccinations protecting against HPV (human papillomavirus). While there have been recent strides to make this vaccine mandatory, there has also been significant opposition. The side-effects of this new vaccine are not quite known, and it can be very controversial for religious and philosophical reasons. Many believe that vaccinating young girls gives them the idea that sexual promiscuity is OK, since they are protected from HPV. In addition, many mandates for the HPV vaccine, such as Rick Perry's (Texas) in 2007, are gender specific to girls, as HPV can cause cervical cancer. But what about the males who spread HPV to females— shouldn't they be vaccinated? Therefore, a mandate like this is dependent on too many variables. In addition, there are ways that one can protect themselves from HPV through vaccination and safe sex practices. A government mandate on a controversial vaccine is not required to prevent the spread of this disease.

But, government mandates of vaccines do have their time and place. Recently there has been concern following a biased study done by The Lancet that wrongly concluded a link between autism and the MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccination. Although this study was retracted and no research since has been able to prove this suspected link, parents have a right to be concerned with what they are injecting their kids with. All 50 states currently require a form of this vaccination, and exemptions are only issued to those who medically can't be vaccinated, 48 allow religious exemption and 19 allow philosophical exemption.

The benefits of a vaccine like the MMR vaccine far outweigh the slight risks and rare side-effects. Measles, mumps and rubella are all dangerous diseases that should not be taken lightly. Those who are exempted for philosophical or religious reasons by state law should not subject the rest of the world to the diseases they could potentially contract. There are people who medically can't get vaccinated because of allergies or immunocompromisation, and allowing for a multitude of exemptions can put these unprotected people at great risk for contracting the disease.

There isn't a black and white answer. History has proven with the smallpox vaccine that a disease can be eliminated with the proper mandating of a vaccine. Government mandates need to be taken on a case-by-case basis in order to insure the safety and health of our nation and our world.

Gretchen Cyros


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