An unintended consequence

As controversial as it was for the CDC to add Gardasil as a recommended vaccine, there was an unintended consequence.  In today’s Wall Street Journal article Gardasil Requirement for Immigrants Stirs Backlash,

“Even as the medical community debates the widespread use of Gardasil, a vaccine that helps prevent cervical cancer, the government has made it a mandatory treatment for young women seeking to immigrate to the U.S.

The policy, which went into effect Aug. 1, has angered some immigrant advocates, who say that forcing foreigners to take the costly vaccine saddles them with an unfair financial burden. The decision has also upset health policy experts in the U.S., who see the requirement as excessive.

The addition of Gardasil as a mandatory vaccine is the result of a 1996 immigration law, which states that any vaccination recommended by the U.S. government for its citizens becomes a must for green-card applicants. After the immunization committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised last year that Gardasil be given to females ages 11 to 26 in the U.S., the recommendation became an automatic requirement for prospective immigrants when the government updated its list of vaccines in July.”

The CDC spokesman said that “the immunization committee didn’t realize their decision would affect tens of thousands of immigrants” and it is likely that this requirement might be reviewed. 

“Of the 14 required vaccines, 13 are designed to combat infectious diseases that are transmitted by respiratory route and are considered highly contagious.  Gardasil is the sole exception.”

There are a number of reasons why the Gardasil requirement may be excessive for immigrants, including the ongoing research on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine as well as the high $360 cost of the three-dose regimen.  In any case, it does seem appropriate to remove this requirement as a condition of immigration.

October 1, 2008

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