Supreme Court petitioned against vaccination of minors
BY Pamodi WaravitaThe Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) yesterday (27) announced that since the Health Ministry initiated the school vaccination drive on 15 October, 340,000 schoolchildren have up to date received the Covid-19 vaccine, and that there have been no serious complications recorded in any child as a result of the vaccine. “On 15 October, schools started providing the Covid-19 vaccine to students who are 15 years and above, whilst during the weekend following 15 October, medical officer of health (MOH) clinics also started providing the vaccine to students. Since then, 340,000 children have received the vaccine so far. Prior to this, we also began the vaccination of children with chronic conditions between the ages of 12 to 18 years. A total of 20,000 children were vaccinated during that drive,” HPB Director Dr. Ranjith Batuwanthudawa said while addressing the media yesterday. Dr. Batuwanthudawa said that importantly, the Epidemiology Unit has not recorded any serious complications due to the vaccine in any child. “There have been minor symptoms such as pain at the vaccination site but there are no serious ones. Thus, we encourage parents to ensure that their children get vaccinated. Emergency medical services are provided at all vaccination centres if complications do arise, with the regional medical officers on alert for any problems,” he added. Furthermore, Dr. Batuwanthudawa assured that while no child is being “forced” to take a Covid-19 vaccine, the vaccination drive is an important method of preventing the spread of the pandemic. Thus, he said that vaccination should be a priority amongst the public. However, he said that the Education Ministry does not require proof of vaccination for a child to go to school or to sit for exams. “We are not forcing anyone to get the vaccine. Everybody has their free will. However, as a society it is suitable if everybody gets the vaccine. Even after getting the vaccine, it is important to adhere to the health guidelines. A child who has not taken the vaccine can come and sit for exams whilst following the other health guidelines,” he said. According to the Presidential Secretariat’s Vaccination Dashboard, 90% of the total population over the age of 20 years has been fully vaccinated (two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine). Meanwhile, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court (SC) requesting that the health authorities be restrained from vaccinating those under the age of 18 years without the disclosure of clinical trial data and post-vaccination effects of all Covid-19 vaccines approved for use for people in that age category. Petitioners Dr. Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, Ranjith Seneviratne, and Hiran Fernando have filed the aforementioned petition in this regard while Health Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella; Primary Healthcare, Epidemics, and Covid-19 Disease Control State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle; the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA); and Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Asela Gunawardena have been named as respondents. Thus, the petitioners have requested the SC to direct the respondents to obtain and disclose all clinical trial data and post-vaccination effects of all Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in Sri Lanka. The petitioners have also requested the SC to restrain the respondents from making vaccines mandatory for all those under the age of 18 years.