Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Director of Policy and Advocacy at NLIRH, wrote this piece for RH Reality Check in response to the new requirements:
This July, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new requirements, including five new vaccinations for individuals seeking adjustment of immigration status. One of these vaccinations is Gardasil, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Gardasil, manufactured by Merck, is the only HPV vaccine in the U.S.–also the most expensive vaccine on the market and the only vaccine to be approved for use in only one sex. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is the only federal body that makes recommendations about immunizations; the committee’s recommendations serve as the template that USCIS uses to determine immunization requirements for immigration procedures. These new requirements put increased barriers and additional burdens on women’s access to adjustment of immigration status and applications for visas to enter the U.S. and stoke the already reverberating anxieties among communities of color about the HPV vaccine.
Instead of mandating vaccines for immigrant women’s bodies, the U.S. government should increase access to health information and services that are unbiased, age-appropriate, culturally-competent and non-coercive. Mandating a vaccine that specifically targets young non-citizen women is both sexist and xenophobic. It will only add to the current anxieties among many communities of color about the vaccine and the government’s interest in vaccinating a particular community, in this case, immigrant women.