CDC Reverses Gardasil Vaccine Requirement for Immigrants
By Matt Anderson and Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 20, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The U.S. Center for Disease Control announced Friday that starting December 14 it will no longer require female immigrants, ages 11 to 26 seeking permanent resident status, to receive the controversial human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil before entering the United States.
Simone Davis, a 17 year-old British immigrant to the United States, has been seeking citizenship status but was blocked in her search by the requirement for Gardasil. Davis, who is a devout Christian, believes that pre-marital sex is wrong and did not see the necessity for her to receive the vaccine that guards against cervical cancer and other STD's since she has pledged to remain abstinent until marriage.
"I am only 17 years old and planning to go to college and not have sex anytime soon," she told ABC News. "There is no chance of getting cervical cancer, so there's no point in getting the shot."
Davis, who was facing deportation, was also concerned with negative effects attributed to the vaccine. Since its release in 2006, the vaccine has been linked to 47 deaths. In 2008, the FDA documented 6,723 "adverse events" related to Gardasil; 1,061 were considered "serious," and 142 considered "life threatening" according to the FDA's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS.) The reported side effects included Guilliane-Barré Syndrome, lupus, seizures, paralysis, blood clots and brain inflammation, among others.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the HPV vaccine was required by the CDC starting July of 2008. However, soon after the announcement many immigrant, health, and woman's advocacy groups challenged the requirement arguing that since U.S. citizens are not obligated to get the vaccine, immigrants shouldn't be forced to either.
On November 13, though, the CDC announced that the HPV vaccine did not meet the criteria for being a required vaccine for immigrants. According to the CDC, to be required, a vaccine "must be age-appropriate for the immigrant applicant, … protect against a disease that has the potential to cause an outbreak, and … protect against a disease that has been eliminated or is in the process of being eliminated in the United States."
Christine Pearson of the CDC told LSN in an e-mail, "These criteria were not developed specifically with HPV in mind but were developed after concerns were raised about whether HPV was necessary as part of the immigration process."
Although 90% fo HPV infections resolve themselves without treatment after two years, Gardasil is administered as a preventative against cervical cancer, since HPV may be connected to the later development of cervical cancer.
Yet Dr. Diane Harper, a Merck Pharmaceutical researcher who helped develop Gardasil, admitted that girls were more likely to suffer adverse affects from Gardasil than develop cervical cancer, and that Gardasil was ultimately expected to effect a "very minimal" reduction of the U.S. cervical cancer rate.
The CDC announcement comes only weeks after the Alliance Defense Fund filed a brief with U.S. immigration services on behalf of Simone Davis. In September, Simone was denied a waiver that would have allowed her to opt out of the vaccination requirement on the grounds it violated her religious convictions. On October 22, ADF filed the brief seeking to overturn the immigration service's denial.
In the brief, ADF said "Because HPV is passed through sexual activity, receiving the HPV vaccine for protection in case Simone has sex would be the same thing as giving her a condom to put in her purse 'just in case.' It violates her commitment to remain pure until marriage, a commitment she made as part of her Christian faith"
In response to the CDC announcement, ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster told LSN, "We are pleased that the path has now been cleared for the government to grant Simone citizenship without forcing her to violate her religious beliefs."
"The government should not be forcing applicants for citizenship to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs in order to become a citizen, especially when the same requirement is not placed on natural-born citizens. We are glad that the government has stopped this double-standard"
For more information on Gardasil please visit: http://www.nvic.org/
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