Amid the measles outbreak that has claimed at least 189 lives, the Department of Health (DOH) is calling on the Department of Education (DepEd) to implement a ‘No Vaccination, No Enrollment’ policy to make the immunization program mandatory.
But Education Secretary Leonor Briones is hesitant about implementing the suggestion. She believes that preventing students from going to school just because they have not been vaccinated could be a possible violation of human rights.
“We have to look at the human rights aspect. We will study it on the aspect of the Constitution, human rights,” Briones explained.
“As much as there is a growing need to reinvigorate the campaign for the importance of vaccination, the proposed policy must take into consideration the human rights of learners, especially their access to quality basic education. While DepEd is looking into different ways to regain the confidence of parents in immunization, the agency has made commitments with DOH in ensuring that the learners are protected.”
With the proposal for mandatory vaccination still under review, the Education Secretary said that parents should be encouraged to vaccinate their children. The parents should be convinced that the risks of measles vaccination are much different from the Dengvaxia mess which is the main reason why many parents refused to vaccinate their kids.
According to Briones, parents are allowed to decline under the present guidelines on the school-based immunization program. Forcing them to comply could get the teachers in trouble.
But Health Secretary Francisco Duque III pointed out that the vaccination program has long been in effect, under an existing executive order issued by then president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo back in 2007.
However, because the executive order did not provide sanctions for those who do not comply, there’s nothing that the teachers can do, unless lawmakers create a law to this effect.
Photo credit: Ernie Peñaredondo / PhilStar
From January 1 to February 20, 2019, a total of 11,459 cases of measles have been recorded by the DOH; 189 fatalities were reported. The number of cases has greatly increased by 329% compared with the 2,673 cases of measles recorded for the same period in 2018.
“We are hoping and praying for the measles outbreak to end, but it’s still increasing,” Duque said.
“We are looking at countries where immunization is mandatory. We have no law yet on this but this is something that merits serious consideration.”