Parents are being urged to apprise themselves with the country’s existing Public Health Act that speaks to immunization (vaccination) of children.
This encouragement comes on the heels of the formal reopening of school in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The plague which has impacted the entire world has led to several changes and major interruption in how the world and governments administer and meet the basic needs to its people; one of which is the right to education.
Under the Public Health Act of 1974 and the Immunization Regulations of 1986, all children under the age of seven (7), must be immunized before entry into the formal school system. These include Day Care, Nursery and other Early Childhood and Primary schools.
The Public Health Act, also stipulates that persons, organization and institutions authorized to admit children to schools, SHOULD NOT admit any child without his or her immunization card. If the child is already admitted, he/she SHOULD NOT be permitted to continue, unless the parents produce the document.
Speaking with the Freedom Come Rain Newspaper, Gail, a parent noted that her child has had no success in getting through with the online approach to learning. She said she is not able to teach the child, which is her reasons for the dependency on the formal school system.
“I am ready and willing to send my child to the physical building [school] when the government announce it- because him nah get nutten from the current setup right now.” she added.
When asked if she knew what the Public Health Act explained about immunization and vaccination concerning children, she answered no – but quickly added that she was not interested in her son getting vaccinated for COVID-19- if it is a condition for re-entry to the classroom. “If the government want to force me to give my child vaccine before him can go back inna class, dem dat a guh be a big problem- might as well mi make find a hustle and fi get school.” Gail further noted that she was very concerned about her child’s right to education and if it was being met during this time.
With the existing digital divide and many children are not able to access the online platforms for school, parents like Gail, are now looking forward to the ‘next best’ solution which is in-person schooling, but not at any cost. Parents are to advised to know what the law stipulates concerning vaccination of children who attend public schools – to prepare if the option is brought before the nation. While there is no current plan on the table to give children vaccination before getting re-entry into the formal classroom, many things will change when children physically go back to school- a high interaction environment.
The Public Health Act of 1986 instructs that parents, guardians, school administrators who fail to comply with the law are guilty of an offence. The Act dictates a fine of $500 for every child that is not adequately or fully immunized, or be imprisoned for a term not exceeding 30 days.
By Peta Gay Rowe