The Department of Health and the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) of the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF), has recently announced that the rollout for the vaccination of children aged 5-11 years old will be postponed. According to the announcement, the reason for the postponement is due to logistical challenges in transporting the vaccines. The new schedule of the rollout for the vaccination of children aged 5-11 years old will be on February 7, 2022 (Monday).
The National Government procured the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccines, which, according to reports, the vaccines that will be administered to children aged 5-11 years old is lower in dosage compared to the dosage of the same vaccine administered to adults.
Vaccination of Children met with challenges
Aside from the logistical challenges that the DOH and NVOC encountered, they also met another challenge, that is, in the form of a temporary restraining order filed by two parents as petitioners. The petition also seeks the courts to declare Department of Health (DOH) Memorandum No. 2022-0041 as unconstitutional and void for grave abuse of discretion.
According to the petitioners, the DOH memorandum is void and unconstitutional especially in invoking the state’s power of parens patriae or the power of the state to act as a substitute parent to a child whose parents for one reason or another cannot properly raise a child. According to the petition invoking parens patriae in the case of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines for children is grave abuse of discretion from the part of the Department of Health.
The petitioners are challenging the DOH memorandum specifically on the part where the DOH will invoke the state’s parens patriae in cases where parents refuse to give consent despite the desire of their child to get vaccinated. Petitioners maintained that the said reason is void and unconstitutional since the vaccine is still experimental since only an emergency use authorization has been issued. Petitioners said that by removing the parent’s right to refuse vaccination of the child is already tantamount to making vaccination of children mandatory.
The Response of DOH and NTF
The Department of Health and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 are aware of the petition filed against the rollout of the vaccination for children 5-11 years old. According to their announcement, the DOH and NTF remains steadfast in their commitment to protecting all sectors of society including children and other vulnerable groups. They maintained that the policy of vaccinating children age 5-11 years old is the result of careful study by health experts and has been approved in many countries including the United States which has the most stringent regulatory bodies in the world.
They also mentioned that there were no adverse effects recorded in the 9 million individuals aged 12-17 years old who were vaccinated with at least one dose. In the age group of 5-11 years old, there were already about 100,000 who signed up for vaccination which according to the DOH is proof that parents are confident and willing to have their children vaccinated against the deadly COVID-19 virus.
Sources: Department of Health