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House bill authorizes DoH to screen minors for communicable disease and limits waiver of consent

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A House bill authorizing the Department of Health (DOH) to screen minors for communicable disease and limits waiver of consent to screening and examinations was introduced in the House chamber this week.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Vailoata Eteuati Amituana’i and it now has been transferred to the House Health committee for further hearings.

The bill further authorizes the department to create rules requiring non-residents traveling to the Territory to provide proof of vaccination from communicable diseases and all other afflictions the department may deem necessary for protecting public health and welfare.

According to the American Samoa Code Annotated (A.S.C.A) 13.0226 - Vaccination program — the department may require vaccination of any individual within their jurisdiction to prevent the introduction or spread of an infectious disease or other condition of public health importance.

The department may make rules requiring and governing immunization against “tuberculosis” and any other communicable disease.

The proposed amendment states that: “The department may make rules requiring non-residents traveling to the territory to provide proof of vaccination and immunization as a prerequisite of entry by the Board of Immigration. The director shall provide a list to the Board of Immigration and the Attorney General of the required vaccination and immunizations.”

Furthermore, “For purposes of screening or examination only, a minor who is or professes to be afflicted or is concerned with being afflicted with a sexually transmitted disease, the HIV virus, or AIDS, shall be deemed to have and shall have the same legal capacity to act, and the same legal obligation with regard to the giving of such consent to the screening or examination by physicians or health professionals of the department, as that of an individual who has reached the age of majority.”

“Such consent shall not be subject to later disaffirmation by reason of such minority and the consent of no other person or persons (including, but not limited to a spouse, parent, or legal representative) shall be necessary in order to authorize the screenings or examination. The authorizing of consent by a minor shall only include screening or examination. Consent for treatment for any positive test result of any affliction shall not be waive