Two parents want local court to stop COVID-19 vaccination of 5- to 11-year-olds

Health workers from the Manila Health Department administer COVID-19 vaccine on minors and senior citizens at the newly renovated Manila Zoo on January 19, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
MANILA — Two parents on Thursday asked a Quezon City court to stop the inoculation against COVID-19 of children aged 5 to 11.
The petitioners questioned the Department of Health’s circular on vaccination for 5 to 11-year-olds, and asked the court to declare it unconstitutional.
The Philippines is set to begin Friday the inoculation of children aged 5 to 11 using Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, with six initial sites in Metro Manila. It will be expanded nationwide on the following day, officials had said.

Dominic Almelor, a former ABS-CBN reporter and a father of a 7-year-old, and Girlie Samonte, mother of two children aged 7 and 9, said they want to have the final say whether or not their children should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Almelor invoked his experience as a journalist, while Samonte, who had filed criminal and civil complaints against government officials over the Dengvaxia vaccine rollout, cited the supposed adverse effects experienced by her son after having been inoculated with Dengvaxia.

They object to a provision in the DOH circular that allows the government, through representatives from the social welfare department, to give consent for vaccination of a minor in case the latter wants to get vaccinated but the parent/guardian refuses. 


“In case the DOH Memorandum is followed, Dominic finds it repulsive that he will not have a say on the matter as his 7-year-old son is still very young and may not be able to stand the effects of the vaccination. His son cannot expect to know of the experimental nature of the COVID-19 vaccine and its possible adverse effects,” the petition said.

Almelor and Samonte, both clients of the Public Attorney’s Office, argued that vaccination is not mandated by law and that “taking away such right to refuse consent from the parents/guardians is the same as making the vaccination mandatory, a blatant and clear circumvention of the Republic Act No. 11525.”

They also said that COVID-19 vaccination does not make the recipient immune from the respiratory disease.

They ask the DOH to respect their choice on the matter, even as they clarify they are not “anti-vaccination”.

Both object to the waiver on liability.

“While Dominic, who himself is fully vaccinated with Moderna mRNA vaccine, like the rest of the world, desires for the global pandemic to end and agrees that every citizen must do his/her part in minimizing the transmission of COVID-19, he believes that vaccinating children 5 to 11 years old, including his son, with waiver on liabillity in case of serious illness, permanent disability, or death, would do more harm than good,” the petition read.

The waiver refers to section 8 of Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 which grants public officials and employees, contractors, manufacturers, volunteers, and representatives of duly authorized private entities immunity from suit and any liability that may arise out of the inoculation of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Almelor and Samonte claimed there are serious adverse effects including permanent disability and death arising from the use of COVID-19 vaccine.

The World Health Organization, in November last year, said that in phase 2 and 3 trials for the mRNA vaccines of Pfizer and Moderna, “efficacy and immunogenicity were similar or higher compared to adults; safety and reactogenicity profiles in adolescents were similar to young adults.”

Although the WHO cited “very rare signal of myocarditis/pericarditis” connected with mRNA vaccines, these cases, it said, occurred more often in younger men aged 16 to 24.

ABS-CBN News sought the comment of the health department on Almelor and Samonte’s petition, but it has yet to respond. 

Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November last year unanimously supported broad use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11. 

The Pfizer vaccine has an efficacy rate of 90 percent among children aged 5 and above, with “very mild” adverse events, according to recently resigned Food and Drug Administration chief Eric Domingo. 

There are some 13.5 million children aged 5 to 11 in the country, according to the DOH. 

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