CDC Removes Discriminatory HPV Vaccination Requirement for Immigrant Women and Girls: Victory for Reproductive Justice Advocates

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) commend the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for taking the critical final step in removing a mandatory vaccination requirement for immigrant women and girls to receive the HPV vaccine. Today, the CDC published a rule that finalizes a set of criteria for evaluating whether vaccinations recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices should become automatic requirements for immigrants. Starting December 14, 2009, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will no longer be a required vaccination for immigrant women and girls.NAPAWF, NLIRH and CLRJ opposed the mandatory vaccination requirement when it took effect in July 2008, and worked together with national, state and local partners in the reproductive justice, women’s health, immigrant rights, medical and public health movements to remove the mandate. Organizations from around the country sent letters to the CDC opposing the rule and submitted comments in support of the proposed criteria. This was an important victory for the reproductive justice movement and showcased the power of cross-movement building strategies to secure reproductive justice and bodily autonomy for the most vulnerable women and girls. “Today shows what can happen when the reproductive justice, women’s health, immigrant rights, and public health movements work together,” said Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of NAPAWF. “NAPAWF is committed to leading policy change that addresses the intersections between immigration status, class, women’s rights, and access to health care. We thank our allies who served with us on the national working group that orchestrated this collective victory.” “More than half of the immigrants who come to the U.S. seeking opportunity are women,” said Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director of NLIRH. “We thank the CDC for restoring their dignity and reproductive justice.”Rocio Córdoba, Executive Director of CLRJ, said, “We commend the CDC for recognizing that all women and girls—regardless of their immigration status—must be treated with dignity in the context of any medical procedure, including the HPV vaccine. As reproductive justice advocates, we strive to ensure that women and communities have valuable information, coupled with the resources and power to make well-informed and uncoerced decisions about their bodies.”“Our campaign partners at the state level were a crucial in this victory,” added Gabriela Valle, CLRJ’s Senior Director of Community Education and Mobilization. “In a climate of increasing hostility towards immigrants and where seemingly few allies take a stand for the rights of the most vulnerable, nearly 100 California organizations and individual supporters stood steadfast in opposing this oppressive mandate on women and girls. Because of the support of Black Women for Wellness, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, our message to the CDC was heard loud and clear.”

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