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By Theresa Merto

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (June 11, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---Officials at the Department of Public Health and Social Services and several private clinics have given close to 4,000 vaccinations in response to the island's measles epidemic.

As of yesterday, the department gave 3,465 shots and three private clinics gave about 471 shots -- for a total of 3,936 shots, said Public Health Director Dennis Rodriguez. Public Health wants to immunize about 5,000 children.

"We are nearing the goal," Rodriguez said, adding that the department is expecting more vaccination tallies from other private clinics.

During the weekend, test results from two suspected measles cases also arrived on island from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Rodriguez said. Both were negative for measles, he said. The number of confirmed measles cases remained at nine yesterday, he said.

Rodriguez said the department is still waiting for results from three test samples. When those arrive, Public Health can determine whether it can declare the outbreak at an end.

The epidemic, which started last month when the number of measles cases reached eight, can be declared at an end three weeks after the last new confirmed case, according to CDC standards.

But Public Health officials continue to urge parents to take advantage of free vaccinations offered at various sites because they are the only way to help prevent the spread of the disease, Rodriguez said.

The department's goal is to vaccinate every child between ages 1 and 6.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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