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BOE member wants all Head Start, Early Head Start children immunized

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BOARD of Education member MaryLou S. Ada wants all Head Start and Early Head Start children immunized.

In December, Head Start and Early Head Start Director Lathania Santos told the board that 73 percent of children in Early Head Start and 61 percent in Head Start had updated their immunization.

“We have been working with [the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.-] Immunization Program by bringing them to the centers, and we also recommend [for] families to go to different events within their villages to get shots,” Santos said during the BOE meeting on Jan. 14, 2020.

But Ada said the immunization figure is still low. “We have to be aware that we are dealing with early childhood, and their immune system is just starting to build,” she added. “I want to increase [the immunization] figure because we might have an outbreak of measles [so]…we need to be proactive.”

Santos said some children are not updated with their immunization because, among other things, “it is really dependent on the availability of transportation as well as the families who actually bring them [to the clinic].”

Santos said they are also having “issues” when they conduct an immunization activity in classrooms — the children do not want to return the Head Start center the following day. “They are afraid of the shots,” she added.

“Even if we bring [the immunization program] to the centers, if the parents will not come, the shots cannot be given,” Santos said, adding that Early Head Start and Head Start serve children from six months to four years old.

Ada said Early Head Start and Head Start programs should require that children must be updated with the required vaccines.

Santos said students who are enrolled with the programs have up-to-date health-entry certificates.

BOE Chairwoman Janice Tenorio commended the Head Start and Early Head Start programs for strictly implementing the immunization requirement for children.

CHCC-Immunization Program manager Jeremy Sasamoto, for his part, said they have delivered a written notice to all schools and daycare centers on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.

“We are currently working with all schools and daycares to bring our services out for another round of on campus vaccinations,” he said. “We expect to schedule on campus vaccinations for all schools and daycares beginning this month through March.”

In an earlier interview, Sasamoto said 95 percent of students in CNMI schools are updated with their immunization.

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