The moral justification for a compulsory human papillomavirus vaccination program

Am J Public Health. 2009 Apr;99(4):616-22. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.131656. Epub 2009 Feb 5.


Compulsory human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination of young girls has been proposed as a public health intervention to reduce the threat of the disease. Such a program would entail a symbiotic relationship between scientific interests in reducing mortality and morbidity and philosophical interests in promoting morality. This proposal raises the issue of whether government should use its police powers to restrict liberty and parental autonomy for the purpose of preventing harm to young people. I reviewed the scientific literature that questions the value of a HPV vaccination. Applying a principle-based approach to moral reasoning, I concluded that compulsory HPV vaccinations can be justified on moral, scientific, and public health grounds.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / ethics*
  • Immunization Programs / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Mandatory Programs / ethics
  • Morals*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / transmission
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / prevention & control
  • Young Adult


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines