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General Health : Government Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

New female immigrants required to get cervical cancer vaccine
By Sue Mueller
Oct 25, 2008 - 5:08:46 PM

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Homeland Security Department has mandated that new female immigrants age 11 to 26 get Gardasil the HPV vaccine to prevent their cervical cancer, news media reported.


The decision won support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but sparked an outcry from advocates over the safety and cost.


"It's outrageous," Sara Sadhwani, project director for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles was quoted as saying. "It seems absolutely premature to mandate this for immigrant women."


The new rule became effective Aug 1 and is estimated to affect more than 130,000 immigrants a year.


The vaccine is indicated to prevent cervical cancer.   Its manufacturer Merck has lobbied states to ask young girls age 11 to 12 to get the vaccine or they are not allowed to enter their school classroom.


Opponents said this mandate for school girls to get the HPV vaccine in effect deprives a person's right to medical decision and maintained that people should have a right to making their own decision.


Many cases of cervical cancer are caused by some strains of sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV).   Medical scientists from Harvard University have published a report early saying that massive vaccination against cervical cancer is not as cost-effective as thought.


The HPV vaccine has been found to reduce chances of cervical precancerous lesions, but it does not seem to reduce the transmission of the virus.   There are cases in which women received the vaccine, but still got HPV through their sexual contact.   The virus can be cleared up in 2 years in most men and women.


Cervical cancer is rare and kills an estimated 4,000 women each year in the United States.  The HPV vaccine costs about $360.  Merck earns nearly 2 billions in sales each year from this vaccine.

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