A Shot of Bias or Duty? Officials Defend HPV Vaccination Rule as Groups Raise Concerns
October 1, 2008
A requirement by the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) that females ages 11-26 seeking permanent residence in the United States be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) went into effect July 1. The vaccine adds around $375 to the status change fee of $1,410. It is also gender-specific and the only vaccine against an STD, leading some women's rights groups to call the mandate discriminatory.
The vaccine, Gardasil, protects against four HPV types linked to 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of genital warts.
"There are benefits to the vaccine, and we're not trying to downplay them, but this vaccine is not accompanied by education, and they're only going to be requiring this for one group of people. It's outrageous," said Jennifer Ng'andu, associate director of health policy at the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy organization.
Ana Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, said the cost of Gardasil amounts to another barrier for women seeking legal status in the United States.
Maria Elena Garcia-Upson, spokesperson for CIS in Dallas, said her agency is simply following recommendations from CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Funding for the vaccine is available through the federal Vaccines for Children program, though adult women may find it difficult to pay for the vaccination, she acknowledged.
CIS also requires all persons seeking an immigration status change to be vaccinated against rotavirus, hepatitis A, meningitis, and zoster. HPV and zoster are new, said Dallas-based surgeon Dr. Alfonso Ramirez. Applicants were given a 30-day grace period for medical exams conducted prior to Aug. 1.
Dallas Morning News
09.28.2008; Thalia I. Longoria