CHCC: NMI prepared for measles outbreak

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WITH a high rate of measles immunization among its youth, the CNMI is prepared for a measles outbreak, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. communications and public relations specialist Zoe Travis said.

CHCC Immunization Program manager Jeremy Sasamoto said the immunization rate from the one to 29 years old group is 90 percent, while the rate for 30 years old and above is 50 percent.

He said starting in 2012, CHCC has been strictly implementing Public Law 6-10, which mandates that all children should be up-to-date with required immunizations prior to enrollment in any school or daycare/childcare facility in the CNMI.

“If the law was enforced [since it was enacted in 1988], the immunization rate for adult groups would have been higher,” Sasamoto said.

Because of the measles outbreaks in the Asia-Pacific region, the risk level in the CNMI has been elevated, Travis said. “But it is not elevated because of our vaccination status or our protocols here.”

Travis said measles tends to have serious consequences among very young children. She noted that the majority of deaths in Samoa involved children under 4 years old.

“They are the ones who are the most likely to have serious complications,” she said. “But again, the fact that we have such a high immunization rate among the youth is a good indicator that we are prepared,” she reiterated.

“It is really important that the overall rate for both the youth and adults is high also,” she said.

“It is important that even healthy adults like us are vaccinated so there will be no chance of us passing it on to people with a compromised immune system and can’t get vaccinated,” Travis added.

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