HPV Vaccination Recommendation For US Women Affect Prospective Immigrants

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Some of the CDC officials who supported a recommendation for young women in the U.S. to receive the human papillomavirus vaccine said they did not intend for it to lead to an immigration policy requiring young immigrant women to receive the vaccine, the Wall Street Journal reports (Jordan, Wall Street Journal, 10/1). The vaccine, approved by FDA two years ago and recommended by CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, prevents transmission of HPV strains responsible for 70% of cervical cancer and 90% of genital warts (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 9/29).

A spokesperson for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said the policy reflects "a statutory requirement" and is based on recommendations made by CDC. A 1996 immigration law states that any vaccination recommended by the U.S. government for its citizens becomes a required one for green card applicants. Gardasil was added to an updated list of immigration vaccines in July and the policy went into effect Aug. 1.

The U.S. government requires 14 vaccines for immigration, 13 of which are aimed at combating infectious diseases that are transmitted by respiratory routes and considered to be highly contagious. According to one government official, the HPV requirement might be reviewed, the Journal reports.

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A CDC spokesperson said the experts on the immunization committee did not realize the decision would affect tens of thousands of immigrants. If ACIP "had known about" the immigration requirement, the committee "would have said it's not a good idea," Jon Abramson, who was chair of ACIP when the recommendation was made, said. He added that HPV is a sexually transmitted infection and is "not something that endangers kids in a school setting or puts your population at risk."

Immigration advocates also are concerned about the cost of the vaccine for immigrants, who already pay more than $500 in application fees. Gardasil requires a three-dose regimen, which costs $360, and the policy requires women ages 11 to 26 to get one dose of the vaccine, which costs about $120.

Tuyet Duong, a senior staff attorney at the Asian American Justice Center, said the requirement is "outrageous" and is "creating an economic barrier" for female immigrants. Priscilla Huang, policy and program director at the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, added, "Given the controversy over the vaccine's effectiveness and adverse side effects, mandating the vaccine for immigrant women is premature and is arguably equivalent to using them as test subjects" (Wall Street Journal, 10/1).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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