Health Department says unaccompanied children pose little health risks

Aug 26, 2014

(Courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Health.)

The Arkansas Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has concluded that unaccompanied children who have arrived in the state from Central America pose little risk of spreading infectious diseases to the public. There are no U.S. Health and Human Services’ shelters housing unaccompanied children in Arkansas, but children have been placed with family members or sponsors in the state.

Children from Central America often participate in childhood vaccination programs, similar to those in the U.S., while still in their native country. However, there are a few vaccinations that are offered in the U.S. that are not offered in Central American countries. These include the flu, chickenpox and pneumococcal vaccines.

Children arriving to the U.S. from Central America receive multiple vaccines before they are released from the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement’s-funded program into a community. These vaccines protect against: tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, meningococcal disease, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, flu, pneumonia, polio, and hepatitis A and B. Furthermore, any child who enrolls in an Arkansas school also must meet state vaccination requirements.

In addition, the Office of Refugee Resettlement screens all children for tuberculosis. Children found to have TB disease are sent to shelters that have the capacity to care for them. Only those children who are no longer infectious are placed with a sponsor.

For more information, visit: http://emergency.cdc.gov/children/unaccompanied/index.asp.