Vaccines – but not as we know them: an ethical evaluation of HPV vaccination policy in Australia
Article first published online: 7 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Authors. ANZJPH © 2011 Public Health Association of Australia
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 35, Issue 2, pages 176–179, April 2011
How to Cite
Rae, M. and Kerridge, I. (2011), Vaccines – but not as we know them: an ethical evaluation of HPV vaccination policy in Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 35: 176–179. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2011.00652.x
- Issue published online: 5 APR 2011
- Article first published online: 7 MAR 2011
- Submitted: March 2010 Revision requested: April 2010 Accepted: July 2010
- public health;
- mass vaccination;
- papillomavirus vaccines;
- public policy;
Objective: To show how systematic ethical evaluation of public health policy may reveal issues of moral significance for critical examination.
Method: Using Australia's human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program as an exemplar and adopting an approach outlined elsewhere, we determine whether conditions of effectiveness, proportionality, necessity and least infringement, and public justification, are met such that any breach of autonomy or justice principles associated with this intervention can be defended.
Conclusions: While the HPV vaccine itself may be efficacious, some aspects of the program lack sufficient moral justification and raise concerns around procedural and social justice and gender equity.
Implications: Public health interventions deploying new technologies against new targets – such as vaccines against cancer and chronic illness – require approaches crafted to their specific risk-benefit profiles that have carefully considered the ethical issues involved. Systematic ethical reflection is a useful tool for this.