Expansion of mandatory immunization program gets final reading approval in Lower House

Published February 8, 2021, 10:35 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives passed on third and final reading the bill proposing to expand government’s mandatory immunization program for all life stages, with authors of the measure airing confidence that this time, the bill will be enacted into law.

With 206 House members voting in the affirmative, House Bill 8558 hurdled final approval.  The voting also registered one negative vote and one abstention.

The Lower House passed a similar bill during the 17th Congress but failed to make into law due to time constraint.

HB 8558 consolidated 11  separate legislative proposals that sought to amend Republic Act No. 10152 or the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011.

Authors included Reps. Joy Myra S. Tambunting (PDP-Laban, Paranaque City); Cristal Bagatsing (PDP-Laban, Manila); Irene Gay Saulog (Kalinga Partylist); Carl Nicolas Cari (NP, Leyte); Alfred Vargas (PDP-Laban, Quezon City); Strike Revilla (Lakas-CMD, Cavite)  and Manuel DG Cabochan III.

HB 8558 provides the implementation of mandatory vaccination for vaccine-preventable diseases that includes tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella or German measles, hepatitis B, human influenza type-B, rotavirus, Japanese encephalitis, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), human papilloma virus (HPV); and booster for measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria (MRTD). 

Dengue vaccine, which was mandatory for children in 2016, is not in the list.

HB 8558 provides for the creation of a National Immunization Technical and Advisory Group (NITAG) that will serve as a technical and independent multi=-disciplinary advisory body to the Department  of Health on immunization and vaccine for all life stages.

The bill limits the authority of the Secretary of Health to determine other types of vaccine-preventable diseases by requiring the recommendation of the NITAG and presentation before a joint committee of Congress.

Bagatsing said the mandatory immunization services for the vaccines may be included in the Philhealth benefit package.

The Manila solon said HB 8558 also mandates the provision of free vaccines in government hospitals or facilities, any public school or community under its school-based or community based immunizaiton program and in any private facility.

According to Bagatsing the measure mandates the DOH to conduct massive and continuing education and information campaign on the importance to an individual’s health the giving of basic immunization.