Call for Action on HPV Vaccines for Immigrant Women

By Rachel Walden — November 26, 2008

Last month, I wrote about the new requirement that immigrants seeking permanent legal status in the United States receive the HPV vaccine (along with other required vaccines).

Briefly, my concerns about this change included “the lack of an opt-out provision (in contrast to requirements for U.S. citizens), the expense of the series, the lack of significant public health risk posed by omitting this vaccine, and the vulnerability of the affected population.” See the original post for more details and links to further commentary.

On Tuesday, the National Women’s Health Network issued a call for people concerned about this issue to contact their Senators and Representatives to request that they support “removing the HPV vaccine from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements for the adjustment of status” and suggesting a core message that “I, along with the National Women’s Health Network, support providing women with all possible tools to prevent cervical cancer but strongly oppose the USCIS HPV vaccine mandate.”

The organization explains:

“Based on the research made public to date the HPV vaccines appear to be highly effective and very safe. While the National Women’s Health Network (NWHN) supported FDA approval of Gardasil, it is important to acknowledge that it is a new technology and clinical experience with it is limited. There are some questions about the effectiveness of the vaccine that cannot yet be answered, and, as with any new product, there isn’t any data about its long-term safety.

Although the HPV vaccine is an important tool for reproductive health, it is a relatively new technology and the NWHN believes that obtaining it should be an informed decision rather than a response to a mandate for only one sector of the population. We urge you to take a moment and to call or email your members of Congress to ask them to reverse this policy. We need to ensure that immigrant women are not faced with yet another barrier to adjusting their status.”

You can find your Senator or Representative online. I’ll update this post with links to NWHN’s suggested phone and email scripts if they become available online.

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