ASIAN & PACIFIC ISLANDER AMERICAN HEALTH FORUM STATEMENT ON NEW VACCINE REQUIREMENTS FOR IMMIGRANTS

San Francisco, CA – The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires applicants who seek permanent residency (green card) or adjust their current status to meet vaccination requirements on a broad range of vaccine- preventable diseases. Effective July 1, 2008, the USCIS has added five new vaccines as recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices to the Medical Admissibility Review requirements. Applicants will be required to have the following age-appropriate additional vaccinations: Rotavirus (gastroenteritis) Hepatitis A, Meningococcal (meningitis), Human papillomavirus (cervical cancer) and Zoster (shingles).

While APIAHF supports the adoption and use of vaccinations that have been proven to be effective in preventing unnecessary disease, APIAHF is also concerned about assuring that the vaccines are accessible to all and that immigrants are not unduly burdened. APIAHF acknowledges the potential benefit of the HPV vaccine in preventing cervical cancer, but also recognizes that specific concerns have been raised about the vaccine’s effectiveness. APIAHF is concerned about what appears to be inadequate involvement in and transparency about the process regarding decisions about additional vaccine requirements. We also are concerned about inadequate outreach, education, and dissemination of information to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities who are affected by the requirements.

Cervical cancer is a major concern to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, particularly for specific ethnic subgroups. Screening remains the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer and immigrant communities have low rates. APIAHF supports increased funding for federal programs such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) which supports, among others, community driven programs to increase the rates of cervical cancer screening for Vietnamese women, who have five times the rate of cervical cancer as White women.