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Just implementation of human papillomavirus vaccination
  1. Erik Malmqvist1,
  2. Kari Natunen2,
  3. Matti Lehtinen2,
  4. Gert Helgesson3
  1. 1Centre for Studies of Meaning, Ethics and Society (CERSES), Université Paris Descartes, Paris Cedex 06, France
  2. 2School of Health Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
  3. 3Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics, LIME, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Erik Malmqvist, Centre for Studies of Meaning, Ethics and Society (CERSES), Université Paris Descartes, 45 rue des Sts. Pères, 75270 Paris Cedex 06, France; erik.malmqvist{at}


Many countries are now implementing human papillomavirus vaccination. There is disagreement about who should receive the vaccine. Some propose vaccinating both boys and girls in order to achieve the largest possible public health impact. Others regard this approach as too costly and claim that only girls should be vaccinated. We question the assumption that decisions about human papillomavirus vaccination policy should rely solely on estimates of overall benefits and costs. There are important social justice aspects that also need to be considered. Policy makers should consider how to best protect individuals who will remain unvaccinated through no fault of their own. This is especially important if these individuals are already disadvantaged in other ways and if vaccinating other people increases their risk of infection.

  • Cervical cancer
  • human papillomavirus
  • social justice
  • vaccination
  • enhancement
  • genetic selection
  • research ethics
  • philosophical ethics
  • public health ethics
  • general
  • work of ethical review boards
  • research ethical guidelines
  • ethics and economics
  • ethical aspects of biobanking
  • autonomy
  • research ethics
  • informed consent
  • ethics committees/consultation

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  • Funding This work was supported by the Swedish Cancer Society.

  • Competing interests ML has received grants for his HPV vaccination research from Merck & Co and GSK Biologicals through his employers.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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