Yet another example of science and statistics being used to influence behaviour (public and government). The Observer reports plans to vaccinate all schoolgirls against a sexually transmitted disease linked to cervical cancer. The virus is said to be “one of the key causes” and Cancer Research UK claims it could prevent three quarters of cases of the cancer. On what basis such claims and statistics are being used, is not clear.
Debate on the story centres around cost of the jab and whether or not it would encourage sexual activity in young girls. Nowhere is there consideration of the ethics or civil liberties aspect of such widespread immunisation. Indeed, an emotive argument is present in the case used of Hollie Anderson (aged 13) who was the first British girl to get the vaccine privately. Sadly, her grandmother died of cervical cancer and so Hollie’s mother is quoted as saying she believes every mother and daughter should have the jab. Maybe Hollie should (if there is an significant risk to her), but statistically or scientifically, this is not a robust argument for government to vaccinate everyone.