The Board of Education wants 100% of all Head Start and Early Head Start children to be immunized and up-to-date in their vaccinations.
As of Dec. 2019, 73% of children in Early Head Start and 61% in Head Start had updated immunization records, according to Head Start and Early Head Start director Lathania Santos.
BOE member Marylou Ada still thinks that that number is low, especially with the threat of a measles outbreak in the region, the most recent of which occurred in Samoa.
Ada added that Early Head Start and Head Start programs should require children to be updated with the required vaccines.
“We have to be aware that we are dealing with early childhood, and their immune system is just starting to build. I want to increase [the immunization] figure because we might have an outbreak of measles [so]…we need to be proactive,” she said.
Santos explained that some children are not updated with their immunization because of the lack of transportation, among other things.
“It is really dependent on the availability of transportation as well as the families who actually bring them [to the clinic],” she said.
Another issue, Santos said, is that some of the children cannot be given shots when there is an immunization outreach because the parent has to be there since Early Head Start and Head Start children range from 6 months to 4 years old.
“Even if we bring [the immunization program] to the centers, if the parents will not come, the shots cannot be given,” Santos said.
BOE chair Janice Tenorio lauded the Head Start and Early Head Start programs for strictly implementing the immunization requirement for children.