Just as students are heading back to school, the Department of Public Health and Social Services announced a shortage of Tuberculin skin tests — one of the requirements to attend school.
First-time and transitioning students are required to update all of their shots before the start of the school year. This includes having the child tested for tuberculosis.
But a notice issued by Public Health says there is a nationwide shortage of Aplisol, a product which tests for tuberculin antigens.
Public Health Director Linda Denorcey says that the shortage is between three to 10 months and since the announcement, they have been assessing the island’s antigen supply and the volume of serial testing.
This raises the questions: How will students be affected? Does this mean students who have not received the TB skin test will have to miss school for several months until the tests are completed?
PNC has reached out to GDOE for clarification however no response was received as of news time. Meanwhile, the announcement from Public Health does make recommendations for testing students during the shortage:
1) Students, who have never received a TB test must still get one from their primary care provider and submit it to their school. Students entering from the United States and its territories should have it completed within one year before enrollment. Students entering from an area other than the United States should have six months before enrollment.
2) Students requiring serial testing need to complete a TB risk assessment and have it reviewed by the school administration. This is a self-assessment to determine if there is an immediate need for testing. It includes questions on TB symptoms, exposure risks, and potential for progressing to TB disease.
3) When transferring from one school system to another, the transfer of health documentation should be allowed to minimize the need for repeat testing.
DeNorcey says the recommendations are active for the current school year and applies to all serial testing for students from Pre-K to post-secondary education. The recommendations may be extended if the shortage persists longer.
On island, some clinics say that they have run out of the TB skin test but will be placing those in need on waiting lists.