Guarding Our Borders with Gardasil: Immigrant Women and Physical Autonomy
42 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 15 Jun 2010
Date Written: April 16, 2010
On September 30, 1996, Congress amended the Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, by adding the requirement that all immigrants prove receipt of all vaccinations recommended by the Center for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (CDC-ACIP). Thus, vaccines that are only recommended to the U.S. population automatically became mandatory for immigrants. Merck Pharmaceuticals obtained its license for the vaccine, Gardasil, which protects against the development of some types of genital ulcers and cervical cancer, in June 2006, and the CDC-ACIP recommended, in March 2007, that all females 11 to 26 should get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, or HPV. With the exception of girls in Virginia and Texas's public schools, this controversial vaccine is not required for any female in the United States, public school-educated or not. However, because it is recommended by the CDC, Gardisil is required for any woman immigrating to the United States or adjusting their status to legal permanent resident. This paper focuses on the Gardisil mandate as an issue of reproductive and personal autonomy denied to immigrant and prospective immigrant women today, and explores the astonishing silence on the issue from immigrant groups, reproductive rights advocates, and women's issue organizations.
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