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ACOG Joins Opposition to Mandatory HPV Vaccine Requirement for Immigrant Girls and Women

February 2, 2009

Washington, DC -- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) joins more than 100 organizations representing immigrants' rights, women's rights, public health, medicine, and reproductive justice in urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to remove the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine from the list of required vaccinations for female immigrants seeking permanent residence or entry to the US. ACOG also supports the request that the CDC direct the US Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services to suspend the HPV vaccination requirement for immigrants seeking to adjust their immigration status or to obtain visas to the US.

In a January 26 letter to Richard Besser, MD, acting director of the CDC, ACOG was among those organizations voicing collective opposition to the recent requirement that female immigrants ages 11 to 26 be immunized against HPV. The requirement was finalized in July 2008 and took effect in August. The organizations request that the CDC direct the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)* to modify its recommendation to state that the HPV vaccination should not be mandated for immigrants. ACIP recommended in 2007 that the HPV vaccine be administered to females ages 11 to 26 in the US. This recommendation then became an automatic requirement for prospective immigrants when the government updated its vaccination list in July 2008.

Although ACOG strongly recommends the HPV vaccine, it does not support mandatory HPV vaccination. Prospective immigrant women should have the same opportunity as American women to make an informed decision about whether or not to be vaccinated against HPV.

 

*ACIP consists of 15 experts in the fields associated with immunizations who are selected by the secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services to provide advice and guidance to the secretary, the assistant secretary for health, and the CDC on the control of vaccine-preventable diseases. ACIP develops written recommendations for the routine administration of vaccines to children and adults in the civilian population.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is the national medical organization representing over 52,000 members who provide health care for women.