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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Senate President wants power repealed

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SENATE President Aquilino Pimentel III has filed a bill seeking to transfer to Congress from the Health secretary the power to choose the vaccines to be included in the government’s basic immunization program.

“The danger of relying on the wisdom of one  individual on a matter as vital as the health of our children has been made painfully clear to us  all,” stressed Pimentel.

The Senate leader was obviously referring to the anti-dengue Dengvaxia vaccination which has endangered the lives of over 800,000 children.

“For the sake of our children—and the sake of our health  officials, too—the  responsibility of deciding what vaccines our children are required to receive should not be borne  by one person alone,” he said.

In the light of the ongoing controversy over  the anti-dengue vaccine, Pimentel said it had become  clear that  the Health secretary had the  power to “overrule reservations of other experts as regards what other vaccines should be administered to our children.”

“Hence, this bill proposes to repeal the secretary of Health’s power to include vaccines in the mandatory basic immunization program.”

He stressed that any proposal to add other types of vaccines to those enumerated in the law must be made before Congress, which should amend the law if it agreed the proposed addition was necessary.

Pimentel’s proposal  was contained  in  Senate Bill  No. 1743 that seeks to amend Republic Act No. 10152 or the “Mandatory Infants and Children  Heath Immunization Act of 2011.”

He said the law was enacted  to address the  then-growing number of newborns and children  infected  with the Hepatitis-B virus.   

Aside from  Hepatitis-B,  the law also mandates immunization for other  seven diseases like tuberculosis, tetanus, measles  and mumps.

“The law also gave unfettered  discretion  to the Secretary of Health to determine such other types of vaccines that may be  included in the mandatory  basic immunization program,” he added.

“It is this latter feature of the law that this bill seeks to address,”  he said  in the explanatory note of his bill.

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