PARENTS refusing to immunize their children is a form of “child neglect”, a Davao City councilor heading the committee on health said.
“That is a form of neglect. If you do not give the health services to your children, technically, maging child neglect ‘yan (it will be considered a child neglect),” Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte said on Wednesday, November 20, when asked about the parents who continue to reject vaccination for their children an ongoing epidemic outbreak.
Villafuerte, on Tuesday, November 19, during the city council’s regular session, revealed that she will be pushing for a mandatory immunization during school enrollment.
The councilor said she will include it as one of the provisions of her ordinance, requiring parents to have their children immunized.
However, she clarified on Wednesday during the 19th City Council Media Briefing at the Sangguniang Panlungsod that parents who refused to be vaccinated will be barred from the school admission.
“I’m not saying na we will refuse them. We will make it a requirement. During the course of the school year, they will not be barred, but we will help them comply,” Villafuerte said.
She admitted that she did not intend to put a penal clause in her proposed ordinance, as the mandatory immunization to convince them from availing of the vaccines, which is free of charge.
“The challenge is the power of our health professionals to convince and explain why it saves lives. That is why we are preventing our children from getting sick, dying, and getting paralyzed,” Villafuerte said.
Earlier, she said the mandatory immunization will not be limited to polio, wherein an outbreak was declared in September by the Department of Health (DOH). She said MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) vaccines will also be given.
She added requiring vaccination during enrollment would be convenient for parents as health workers will be deployed.
Villafuerte said she hopes to get the support from the Department of Education (DepEd), who previously made a similar proposal during the measles outbreak in the country, but was later on shelved.
“Other developed countries do not have a problem with outbreak because they make sure when they enter school they are fully immunized,” she said.
Villafuerte said, in case parents would still refuse to have their children vaccinated, she said the local government could apply the “parens patriae” principle, which allows the State to step in and serve as a guardian for children, the mentally ill, the incompetent, the elderly, or disabled persons who are unable to care for themselves. She also said the State is allowed to act as the parent of any child or individual who is in need of protection.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (Act) Davao City division president Reynaldo Pardillo said that they will be supporting the proposal once Deped will implement it.
However, Pardillo said proper information dissemination and consultation must be made.
“Rhis is the additional burden (maybe) for facilitating the said event because we are always the frontline in mandatory activities comng from the office of the Education Secretary,” he said.
Pardillo also said that parents, during the enrollment, should be oriented first before giving them the vaccination.
“Lisod na nga mabasol napud sila kung aduna may parehas nga panghitabo sa Dengvaxia, wherein naa nay nahitabong doubts tungod ato. Dili gyud nato sila mubasol kung naa mahitabng doubts (It is hard to blame them when these parents already had previous doubts on vaccination brought about the Dengvaxia scare),” he said.