Texans, mainly sixth grade girls, are familiar with the drug Gardasil. It protects against a sexually transmitted disease, and Governor Rick Perry made the vaccination mandatory last year, alienating some of his anti-choice, stem-cells-send-you-to-hell base.
Now immigrants have been thrown in the mix. Gardasil was recently added to the list of mandatory vaccinations for immigrants wanting permanent residency in the United States.
"Does it have more adverse effects on people from a lower socio-economic class? It does," Steven Pham, a Houston immigration attorney and partner at Smith & Garg, tells Hair Balls. "I understand if it was tuberculosis or measles or mumps, but a venerable disease?"
"In southeast Asia, some families only make $200 to $250 a year," Pham says. "In some third world countries, they might not be able to get the drug."
After Perry made the vaccine mandatory, some of his critics accused him of being in the pocket of Merck, the manufacturer of the vaccine, since the drug company gave money to Perry's campaign and his former chief of staff was employed as a Merck lobbyist. Pham didn't see any corrupt motivations in the federal move, but he does think the 1996 immigration act needs to change.
"It's purpose was harsher consequences for immigrants who commit crimes, but I've seen too many effects that were unintended," Pham says. "We haven't seen any cases of denial due to the vaccination, but it's only a matter of time."
-- Paul Knight