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DOE working to get students immunized

by Michele Catahay

Guam - Another possible case of the mumps has been reported at a public high school, this time at JFK High. Several weeks ago, a student at Simon Sanchez had the mumps.

JFK school nurse Victoria Ballares says she found out last Thursday that a 14-year-old boy had been discharged from the Guam Memorial Hospital just recently after he tested positive for the mumps. Thereafter she reported the case to Public Health, who then confirmed the case on Friday. Today, Ballares says Public Health officials were at the interim JFK campus in Tiyan, conducting assessments and going over students' immunization charts. She says they're required to ensure all students are up to date with their shots when they register for classes.

In the meantime, DOE Student Support Services Administrator Jessica Camacho says the standard operating procedure is to contact Public Health once a suspected case is reported. She says they've taken active steps to ensure standard operating procedures are followed correctly.  "In regards to what the superintendent has already instructed all schools, is that all school nurses are reviewing all the students' immunization records to make sure they're up to date," she said.

Camacho says school nurses are required to ensure immunizations are up to date on a regular basis. She admits that DOE would need to ensure all these requirements are being implemented correctly when cases such as these arise.  "They do, but what we need to do probably is really look and scrutinize all of the records at this point and I think that's where we're at now and we want to make sure that everybody is up to date with any incident that occurs in the school healthwise," she said.

"We definitely want to be in a preventative measure then to just act on a crisis level. So yes, definitely we'll be looking at it more especially in the incidences that we're having breakouts in," she added.

Several weeks ago a student at Sanchez High reportedly had the mumps. Camacho says although the student was given the okay to return to school, she wants to alleviate all concerns parents have on whether their children are safe.  "We'd like to tell all the parents that we're doing everything possible to prevent any other outbreaks in the school," she confirmed.  "We encourage parents to please update their child's immunization shots. That will definitely assist us in that situation."

While Public Health will be issuing out letters to parents this week, they're also expected to give a presentation on the signs and symptoms of the mumps in the next day or two.

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