‘No vac, no enrolment’ draws mixed reactions

A group advocating women’s and children’s rights said on Monday that the “No Vaccination, No Enrolment” policy proposed by the Department of Health (DOH) is a violation of the right of the child to education.

Executive Director Jeanette Ampog of Talikala said the government should explore other means that would educate both the parents and communities on the importance of vaccination. 

“Vaccination should not be a pre-condition to enrolment. Why are the children made to suffer for the decision of their parents?” Ampog said.

She also said that partnership with the private sectors and medical professionals should be intensified to make the information and services accessible especially to areas located far from health centers.

Alliance of Concerned Teacher (ACT) Davao division president Reynaldo Pardillo said the proposal should not be enforced. 

“Their (DOH’s) policy will break the goal that ‘no student should be left behind’, ” Pardillo said. 

He said that parents cannot be totally blamed for their hesitation to have their child vaccinated, after the Dengvaxia vaccine crisis broke out when some children vaccinated with the drug suffered complications. Dengvaxia-related deaths have also been reported. 

Mindanao Peace Council (MPC) secretary general Vince Molejon also opposed the proposal saying that it is “overboard and unconstitutional”.

“What the DOH and DepEd can do to bring back the confidence of parents to vaccination is to teach them correct principles about vaccines and vaccination and let them decide for themselves,” Molejon said.

Last week, DOH urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to disallow parents from having their child enrolled in schools if he/she is not fully vaccinated. The DOH said that the proposal was “in view of the rising number of measles cases in the country as a result of low vaccinations against the disease.

“The health department also said it will be a great strategy to help the government in its campaign to have every Filipino children immunized. DepEd, meanwhile, said the agency is currently studying the proposal, to be implemented in public schools. 

“As much as there is a growing need to reinvigorate the campaign for the importance of vaccination, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said that the proposed policy must take into consideration the human rights of learners, especially their access to quality basic education.” 

The education department made assurance of its commitment with DOH in ensuring that the learners are protected.

Davao City Councilor Mary Joselle Villafurte said that the proposed policy would be helpful in the immunization targets of DOH and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“I am very happy that DepEd is now our partner in meeting these goals. In order to prevent future outbreaks of preventable diseases,” Villafuerte said in a text message. 

However, the concurrent chair of the committee on health said that massive information and education campaign to famillies through the Parents-Teachers Assembly (PTA) should be done religiously to make them understand the importance of complete vaccination to children, in order to prevent future outbreaks of preventable diseases.