CHR lauds DOH on 'informed consent' in COVID-19 vaccination program

Commission on Human Rights

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has welcomed the pronouncement of the Department of Health (DOH) that it will adhere to "informed consent" and provide the public with information on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines and divulge the brand before giving them the jab.

"Time and again we stress that, in ending this pandemic, respect and promotion of human rights must always be at the center of all government actions,” the CHR said through Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia.

“Human rights are not to be compromised, but should rather be prioritized. Ending this pandemic, after all, is in pursuit of the people’s right to health and a safe and healthy environment," De Guia, a lawyer, also said in a statement.

On Friday, May 21, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said that those who will get vaccinated against COVID-19 will still be informed what brand they will be receiving before they sign the vaccination consent form.

Guevarra said the policy was adopted during the meeting held last Thursday, May 20, by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“While President Duterte has given a directive not to publicly announce what particular vaccine will be made available in a particular site, everyone will be properly informed at the site of the actual vaccine to be administered before he/she is made to sign the corresponding consent form,” he said.

“The person concerned will not be compelled to take the jab if upon medical advice he/she believes that another vaccine is more suitable to his/her condition,” he explained.

The DOH had made a request to local government units (LGUs) not to divulge the vaccine brands that will be offered in specific sites, as numerous Filipinos queued up heavily in places that offered their preferred vaccine.

To avoid similar incidents from happening, the DOH announced that vaccine brands will no longer be announced in advance. However, DOH said the public will still be informed of the vaccine brand once they are at the vaccination site.

De Guia said the CHR is urging the government to beef up efforts in addressing vaccine hesitancy, since the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted from April 28 to May 2 revealed that only 58 percent of those who had confidence in the current government COVID-19 vaccination program were willing to get vaccinated.

"This percentage falls short in satisfying the goal of achieving herd immunity in the country," said De Guia, as she warned against "deadly misconceptions" that discourage the public from getting vaccinated.

Despite what some Filipinos fear, De Guia assured that vaccines work and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated when it is already their turn.

Also, the CHR is encouraging the public to be more discerning about the news and information they receive and pass on to others regarding the virus and the vaccines.

"Check if the sources of the information are legitimate sites and channels," De Guia reminded. "And remember that getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID-19, including its severe symptoms and even death," she added.

At the same time, the CHR is encouraging the government to look into the plights of the more vulnerable members of society in providing the COVID-19 vaccines, she said.

"As CHR campaigns for #Vaccine4All, we hope for a more efficient and effective vaccination rollout in the country - a health program that considers the plight of the vulnerable, such as the elderly and persons with disabilities; addresses lapses in prioritization and protocols; and puts into good use precious vaccine resource of the country," De Guia added.