Spring 2007 Sample Reconstructions

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Sample Reconstruction 1

In Jesse Walker’s article, “Injecting Speed: Why the rush to require the HPV vaccine?” he argues the conclusion that although the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, is helpful it should not be required in schools. First, he argues that the rush to mandate the vaccine is abnormal and irresponsible when compared to time with other vaccines. That is, vaccines typically undergo a greater period of time between licensing and requirement, and that without this trial period one cannot be as certain that this vaccine is both safe and effective. He references the chickenpox and polio vaccines as two mandatory vaccines that first underwent several years of trial. Second, he argues that the use of vaccines in circumstances where deadly diseases can be spread through casual contact makes sense; however, strains of HPV are transmitted through intimate contact and are not a clear or present contagious danger in the average school day. Thus, the HPV mandatory vaccination in school is weaker because it is not like common childhood infections. Additionally, many are concerned about the message of safe promiscuity that vaccinating children may send. Lastly, the individual choice to get vaccination ultimately makes patients healthier. For the school age children that would be primary candidates for vaccination, it makes sense for the parents to decide what medical care is best. Through this personal decision to accept the shots, or any health care for that matter, patients become more knowledgeable, the doctor and patient relationship is strengthened, and patients become more involved in their own care.

Sample Reconstruction 2

Graded Reconstruction: “Injecting Speed”

The author’s general conclusion is that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine should not be required yet. He also has a sub-conclusion that it may not even need to be mandated at all. His first argument for not requiring the vaccine yet is that it is normal to wait to require a vaccine. Other vaccines, particularly for chickenpox and polio, were not ordered to be given immediately, even though they were prevalent and feared diseases. Taking the time to mandate a vaccine gives scientists and researchers the opportunity to study the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine before requiring it by law. His second argument is that the rush to mandate the HPV vaccine is primarily supported by a group with a conflict of interest. The company who produces the vaccine, Merck, will benefit greatly from the vaccine the sooner it is mandated because it will eliminate competition that could surface later. The author’s next three arguments are based on his sub-conclusion that the vaccine may not need to be mandated at all. First, he argues that HPV cannot be transmitted through casual contact, such as during school. Since it is not as dangerous as contagious diseases such as measles or whooping cough, whose vaccines are already required, the HPV vaccine should not be ordered to be administered. Second, mandating this vaccine would hurt efforts to require other vaccines, especially those which might be considered more important because the diseases are contagious. Anti-vaccine people could become frustrated with the amount of vaccines wanting to be mandated, causing them to oppose future vaccine requirements more strongly. His third argument is that only recommending, rather than requiring, the vaccine would make the general public healthier and more knowledgeable about medical care. By leaving the decision about whether to vaccinate to families, doctors have to persuade them to vaccine their children by explaining the benefits, answering questions, and describing other ways to prevent the disease. Even if a family decides not to vaccine, they still gain valuable medical information.

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