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The Senate has passed legislation that would create a comprehensive federal child-immunization program.

The bill, S 732, would mandate vaccinations for all children and establish a nationwide computer registry to monitor implementation. Federally purchased vaccines would be distributed to state health-care providers, to be given to Medicaid-eligible children at no charge. The bill also calls for outreach efforts to increase public awareness of the need for and availability of immunization.

The vaccinations covered would be determined by an advisory committee appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arguing that computer surveillance of children and families for the purpose of monitoring immunization is an invasion of privacy, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., proposed that parents be allowed to request exemptions. His amendment, which was incorporated into the bill, would also prohibit the use of information collected in the registry in any criminal investigation.

Tracing Juveniles' Guns: Tracking the source of guns found in the hands of juveniles will become the the top priority of the National Firearms Tracing Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, bureau officials said this month.

The A.T.F. will work with local police to confiscate guns recovered in connection with juvenile crimes and crimes at schools, and will use information collected by local authorities to identify the sources of those guns in an effort to prosecute adults who provide guns to young people.

"The public needs to realize that the guns that juveniles are found with are the same guns that we recover from adults,'' said John W. Magaw, the director of the bureau. "Guns have become a status symbol and a form of protection that kids now carry to school and whenever they leave their homes.''

Additional Flood Aid: The Education Department is making an additional $20.9 million in student financial assistance available to college students whose families were affected by flooding in the Midwest this summer.

The money will be added to $30 milion in emergency federal Pell Grants that had already been available.

An estimated 32,000 students will receive the new aid, department officials said.

The aid will be distributed under three campus-based programs: work-study, Perkins loans, and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants.

The aid became available when colleges across the country refunded to the department unspent funds from these programs.

Black-Colleges Panel: President Clinton has issued an executive order creating an advisory committee on historically black institutions of higher education.

The President's Board of Advisers on Historically Black Colleges and Universities will work with federal agencies to increase the amount of federal grants and contracts awarded to such schools.

The board is also charged with supporting the "long-term development plans'' of the institutions by helping to recruit new faculty members--especially in science and technology--and providing advice on how to achieve greater financial security.

Members of the board will be appointed by the President and will include representatives of historically black colleges, as well as business and financial concerns, foundations, and secondary education.

The executive order also calls on the Education Department to encourage private-sector groups to contribute matching funds to the endowments of such colleges, convene task forces for institutions in need of assistance, and provide technical assistance to help institutions improve their financial management, information management, facilities, and curricula.

Vol. 13, Issue 11

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