Students will have access to TB skin tests - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Students will have access to TB skin tests

by Krystal Paco

Guam - It was last week Public Health and school officials met to discuss the national shortage of skin testing solutions and its impacts here at home.

Following good news over the weekend, healthcare committee chair Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. can withdraw Bill 164 - an act he introduced last week with Senator Aline Yamashita to authorize the governor of Guam through executive order to waive tuberculosis testing requirements for up to 90 days in response to a national shortage of TB skin testing solutions.

"Over the weekend we got word that GSA was able to locate a supplier that could give us the needed TB testing kits despite the shortage even when we introduced this legislation about a week ago, we said we need to look at every other option to explore and one of them was to get more kits in and that's what we did and so students now will still be required to take those TB screenings at least for the new ones coming in," the senator explained.

General Services Agency chief procurement officer Claudia Acfalle says a local vendor was successful with identifying a supplier of 1,300 doses of skin testing solutions with a delivery made today and an additional 600 doses to be finalized by the end of the week.

That's a total of 1,900 doses, what Department of Public Health director James Gillan says fulfills the estimated count of students who would need the clearance to enter school come the start of classes August 19th.

"The law is that every student must have a TB screening and the law is for the new students coming in that's kinder and Headstart but board policy has a different and is more stringent that sixth graders and I believe ninth graders are required to take another TB screening," he said.

Despite the good news, both Gillan and Rodriguez agree - this is only the start of the conversation as its debated whether or not mass screenings are effective at preventing TB outbreaks.

Gillan states research shows mass screenings don't work - last school year alone, despite compliance with the TB requirement, three active TB cases were reported at Guam schools - two at Simon Sanchez High and another at John F. Kennedy.

Gillan adds the mandate is also too costly at $111 to $190 dollars per 50-dose vile.

For students still in need of a skin testing clearance, an outreach is set for Wednesday and Thursday at the Micronesia Mall from 10 a.m. to 12 noon or while supplies last.

Gillan notes this outreach is exclusive to those with MIP, Medicare, or no insurance and for new students entering a Guam school as well as kindergarten students.

Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian with a photo ID as well as have the child's shot record.

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