Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the members of Papillomavirus family. These viruses infected the stratified epithelium of the mucous membrane or the skin (Schiffman, et al, 2003, p.1). Statistics indicate that around 20 million people are currently living with HPV. More than 50% of the sexually active people are likely to get infected with HPV. Prevalence studies have found that around 6.2 million Americans get infected with the HPV every year (Battle, 2009, p. 374). In women it has been found that about 70.9% of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV (Type 16 and 18) alone. HPV type 6 has been found be the cause of 90% of all genital warts (Schiffman, et al, 2003, p.1).
Currently, there are two vaccines namely Gardasil (licensed by FDA in 2006) which is advised to be given to females between the age of 9 to 26 years and Cervarix (licensed by FDA in 2009) which is advised for females between the ages of 10 to 25 years. During clinical trials, it has been found that Gardasil was 90-95 % effective in protecting against cervical cancer. It contains proteins from the capsule of the virus and is effective against HPV type 6, 11, 16 and 18. However, Cervarix targets only HPY type 16 and 18. Based on the success of the clinical trial studies on HPV vaccines, CDC supports vaccination for females and males who are 11 to 12 years of age as the immune response is most effective at young age (Battle, 2009, p. 374).
So far there is no federal mandate for administering the vaccines for females and males between the ages of 11 to 12 years. However, it is recommended to have such a mandate as it would be beneficial to administer the vaccine (Gardasil or Cervarix) at an early age as when they become sexually active there is a significant chance of getting infected from HPV. The consequence would be an improved health and longevity for millions of American men and women by preventing the HPV infection (Human Papillomavirus, 2013).
In spite of the potential benefits, HPV vaccine faces ethical and health issues that challenge the mandatory vaccination. There is an argument that federal mandate interferes with the parental rights to make medical choices for their children. If the federal mandate allows parents to give their consent before administering the HPV vaccine, it may introduce some hindrances. Parents may prefer not to vaccinate their children due to medical, religious or personal beliefs. Some parents may be of the opinion that since the child is not sexually active, it would be appropriate if they grow up and make a choice on their own (Edgar, 2010)
Other parents maybe concerned about the uncertain side effects from the vaccine on their children. There have been studies which have found a link between autism and childhood vaccines. Administering the HPV vaccine to young people would mislead them to believe that they are being protected from all sexual related diseases. This might end up encouraging inappropriate sexual activity. Another challenge arises from the fact that the vaccines do not offer absolute protection against all strains of HPV that may cause cervical cancer. Health practitioners are also unsure whether the vaccines offer a long lasting protection against HPV 16. Furthermore, the HPV vaccine would be ineffective in individuals who are sexually active and have are infected with HPV 16/18 infections (Vaesa, 2012).
Battle, C. (2009). Essentials of Public Health Biology: A Guide for the Study of Pathophysiology. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) (2013). Retrieved from
Edgar, J. (2010). Should Your Child Get the HPV Vaccine? Retrieved from
Schiffman, M., Khan, M.J., Solomon, D., Herrero, R., Wacholder, S., Hildesheim, A., et al., (2005). A study of the impact of adding HPV types to cervical cancer screening and triage tests. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 97, 147–50.
Vaesa, J. (2012). HPV Vaccine Risks vs. Benefits: Is It Worth It? Retrieved from