2 Tuberculosis Screenings To Be Held At Guam Mall

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Adequate testing supplies expected to arrive this week

By Michelle Conerly

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, August 13, 2013) – On Guam, tuberculosis (TB) screenings will be held at two outreach sessions this week at the Micronesia Mall; just in time for school to start.

Public school classes start on Aug. 19.

According to a Guam Department of Education (DOE) press release, tests will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday and Thursday while supplies last.

"It's important that we work quickly to address the needs of parents and students before the school year starts," wrote DOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez. "I'm thankful to the Department of Public Health and Social Services Director James Gillan and his staff for working together with our team of nurses to make these two days of screenings possible."

According to DOE Deputy Superintendent Rob Malay, there will be at least 12 nurses on staff during those two days, and he's hoping more will volunteer to serve a greater amount of students.

Requirements

To be screened, the student must have his or her shot record, photo identification, a parent present or written authorization, be a new student who has never enrolled in a Guam school, and must be under the Medically Indigent Program, Medicaid or be uninsured, according to the press release.

On Sunday, Sen. Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr., D-Dededo, confirmed that 1,900 purified protein derivative, or PPD, solutions used for the tuberculosis skin test are expected on island by this week, with 1,250 scheduled to arrive as early as today.

This comes after an earlier announcement that Public Health didn't have enough of the solution to screen students this summer, primarily because of a national shortage since April.

To mitigate the problem, Rodriguez introduced a bill to temporarily suspend TB screenings so that students could still attend school. As of Sunday, Rodriguez said the bill is no longer needed and will be withdrawn.

But the Guam Education Board may still need to revise its policy regarding sixth- and ninth-grade students.

Guam law requires all new students to undergo TB screening, which on island typically is achieved through the PPD test.

The education board policy takes it a step further, requiring new students, as well as new sixth-graders and ninth-graders, to be tested.

But Malay said that if a sixth-grader were to show up at the outreach screening, he could possibly be turned away.

"(Our) focus is on new students and (kindergarteners)," Malay said.

Sixth, ninth graders

He and the education board will meet today to discuss a "pullback" on the requirement for sixth and ninth grades in terms of requiring TB tests.

For students served at the outreach sessions, personnel from the education department and Public Health will be available at the outreach site on Friday and Saturday to read the results.

Malay also said that if a student doesn't get screened before school starts, the law clearly states that the student won't be allowed to go to school.

Some schools do recognize doctor appointments as enough verification for some immunizations, according to Janet Duenas, assistant principal at P.C. Lujan Elementary School. But Malay said that if a student were screened on Monday, the earliest day he could come to school would be 48 to 72 hours after the initial test.

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