Tolentino: Law authorizes DOH to impose mandatory vaccination of schoolchildren

Senator Francis 'Tol' N. Tolentino on Monday October 25 believes that the Department of Health (DOH) could require parents to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19 as the government started its nationwide inoculation drive for the country's general population.

In an interview with DZBB radio, Tolentino said that under Republic Act (RA) 10152, or the “Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act”, the DOH secretary could determine through a department circular which type of “vaccine-preventable diseases” could be covered by mandatory vaccination aside from those listed in the law.

Under Section 3 of RA 10152, the mandatory basic immunization for all infants and children covers diseases such as Tuberculosis; Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis; Poliomyelitis; Measles; Mumps; Rubella or German measles; Hepatitis-B; and Influenza type B.

However, under Section 3(i), other types of vaccine-preventable diseases can be covered by the said law and “may be determined by the Secretary of Health in a department circular.”

According to Tolentino, there is no more need to pass a new law to inoculate children against COVID-19, since the Supreme Court (SC) made it clear in its 2014 ruling in Imbong v. Ochoa that it is the duty of the State to protect the welfare of its citizens, and constitutional provisions protecting the right to health are considered “self-executory” and need no enabling law.

Last month, Malacañang finally allowed the vaccination against COVID-19 of the country’s general population.

Several local governments have already opened pre-registration for teenagers aged 12 to 17 years old after regulatory approvals for emergency use of some vaccine brands for the above-mentioned age bracket.

Tolentino said this is the right time for the DOH to require parents or legal guardians to have their children get inoculated, as vaccine supplies continue to pour in the country.