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Bill introduced requiring non-residents to have proof of vaccinations

Proposed design for Fono building under construction

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In an effort to further protect American Samoa from the spread of communicable diseases, Rep. Vailoata Eteuati Amituana’i has sponsored legislation authorizing the Heath Department to test minors and also to create rules requiring non-residents entering American Samoa to have proof of vaccinations for communicable diseases.

The proposed amendments to the law, is one of the ways to “ensure our protection from an outbreak” of a virus or communicable diseases, especially with the situation early this year with measles and now the coronavirus pandemic, Vailoata told Samoa News earlier this week.

“It’s another layer of public health protection,” he said of the bill, which seeks to amend provisions of current law dealing with vaccination programs, and was introduced last week in the House.

The first provision of the bill authorizes DoH to test minors for any communicable disease and limits waiver of consent to screening, testing and examining. “Consent for treatment for any positive test result of any affliction shall not be waived,” the legislation states.

The second proposed change to current law, as outlined in the bill, authorizes DoH to create rules that may require non-residents traveling to American Samoa to provide proof of vaccination from communicable diseases and all other afflictions that the department may deem necessary for protecting pubic health and welfare.

Proof of immunization would be part of the approval process for non-residents entry by the Immigration Board, according to provisions of the bill, which also states that the Health director shall provide a list to the Immigration Board and Attorney General of the required immunizations.

The bill also adds “tuberculosis” as an infectious disease requiring immunization.

The legislation is expected to be taken up when the Fono convenes on July 12th for its 4th and final session of the 36th Legislature — in which the proposed fiscal year 2021 budget is a priority on lawmakers’ agenda for consideration.

Already, several lawmakers are looking at seeking various financial reports from the Lolo Administration before any budget hearings are held. Among the reports is a breakdown and total amount of federal funding American Samoa received in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

The 3rd Regular Session of the 36th Legislature official ended on Wednesday this week.