GDOE revises TB testing requirements amid product shortage

VACCINE, SKIN TEST: Vaccinations and TB skin tests were offered in August 2018 at the Dededo mayor's office. A shortage of a type of product for TB skin tests has led to a revised policy on school TB testing requirements for the Guam Department of Education this school year. Post file photo

Due to a shortage of a particular brand of product used in the testing of tuberculosis, the Guam Department of Education is implementing several testing requirements recommended by the Department of Public Health and Social Services this school year.

There will be a three- to 10-month nationwide shortage of Aplison, a brand of purified protein derivative, also known as PPD, which is used in TB skin testing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Parents of incoming kindergarten, pre-kindergarten, or Head Start students who experience challenges scheduling TB testing due to the shortage should communicate with their child’s school nurse," GDOE stated. "GDOE is in communication with DPHSS to assist with providing the required testing to incoming students who are unable to source testing elsewhere," the release added.

As part of testing requirements, students who have never been tested for TB infection, such as kindergartners, must still obtain a TB test from their primary care provider and submit it to their school.

There are alternatives to a TB skin test, including a blood test, the CDC stated.

If students have TB symptoms or risk factors, they should be tested prior to admission, according to GDOE.

Students coming from the United States mainland or its territories should have testing completed within one year prior to enrollment, and students coming from other jurisdictions should have tests done within six months prior to enrollment, according to the recommendations within the press release.

For students moving from fifth grade to sixth grade or from eighth grade to ninth grade, a TB risk assessment must be completed and reviewed by the school administration.

When transferring from one school system to another, TB test documents should be allowed to transfer as well to minimize the need for repeat testing, the release states.