The Department of Health (DOH) said that Filipino children are not compelled to receive the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). However, it reiterated that the vaccines can provide protection against the viral illness.
This was the reminder of DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire to parents on Friday, Feb. 4.
“Nais din pong linawin ng Kagawaran ng Kalusugan na ang pagbabakuna sa ating nakakabatang populasyon ay hindi mandatory. Ito po ay naaayon sa kagustuhan ninyo at ng inyong anak (The Department of Health also wants to clarify that vaccination of our younger population is not mandatory. It is of your own free will and of your child),” said Vergeire during the Malacanang press briefing.
“Informed consent is required for all. Ang mga polisiya po natin hinggil sa pagbabakuna ay boluntaryo (Our policies regarding vaccination are voluntary),” she added.
The DOH spokesperson said that “policies that restrict movement for the unvaccinated are to help protect them and the most vulnerable from the virus.”
The country’s COVID-19 vaccination program currently covers individuals aged 12-years-old and above.
The government is set to open the program to children aged five to 11 on Monday, Feb. 7. However, a petition has been filed before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in a bid to stop the vaccination of kids in this age bracket.
In an advisory, the DOH said that the contribution of children aged zero to 11-years-old in the total pediatric cases is higher during the Omicron wave compared to Delta.”
“Cases among the zero to 11 age group comprised an average of 56 percent of the total pediatric cases in September and this climbed up to 69.2 percent,” the DOH said.
Vergeire said that vaccines along with adherence to health protocols is “still the best defense against severe illness, and will help us stop both transmission and mutation of the virus.”
“We therefore encouraged everyone to get vaccinated to get the additional protection against COVID-19,” the DOH said.
Vergeire also encouraged parents to talk with their child’s pediatrician or read information from trusted sources about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Para sa ating mga magulang na meron pa ring kaba at pangamba, hinihikayat po namin kayo na magbasa ng mga studies at magtanong sa inyong mga pediatricians tungkol sa bakuna natin (For the parents who are still hesitating, we encourage you to read studies and ask your pediatricians about our vaccine),” she said.