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Over 1,000 students not up-to-date with required immunization shots

AS of November, 1,038 students were not up-to-date with the required immunization shots, according to Public Health immunization program manager Jeremy Sasamoto.

“These students will be given two-week notices to get the required immunizations or risk suspension from school,” he said in an email to Variety.

According to Sasamoto, his office is sending letters to parents, through schools. “It is important that we enforce our public health immunization laws so that our children, and our community as a whole, are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Public Law 6-10 states that “every parent of a child enrolled in a commonwealth school, public or non-public, whose child’s health records show incomplete immunizations, shall be required to initiate remedial action within two weeks following notifications of the immunization deficiency.”

Sasamoto said his office continues to remind schools and parents about the law. “When I started here nine years ago, this law was not enforced and there were actually schools that had no idea about the law’s existence,” he said in an interview.

There have been improvements over the past three years, he added, “but there are still some schools that are not strict enough in complying with the law. Even though some students do not have shots or a health certificate, some schools still enroll them. They shouldn’t do that. It makes it harder for us because later we have to come after them.”

Under the law, Sasamoto said, continued noncompliance within the three-month period after provisional entry into school will result in a fine not to exceed $100 to be imposed on parents,

“Unfortunately, some students are not taking advantage of the free immunization program. With a lot of the older ones [students in middle or high schools], they read the letter about the free immunization shots, then just throw it away and it never reaches home.”

Sasamoto said it takes only one person to start an outbreak. “The school setting — air-conditioned, closed rooms — that is just asking for it.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/100604-over-1-000-students-not-up-to-date-with-required-immunization-shots

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