Illustration by Đàm Minh Trí
The regulation that requires parents in Hà Nội to provide documentation stating their children’s vaccination records for preschool entry from 2019-20 school year have caused a commotion.
It is supposed to be a necessary rule to establish an immune barrier to protect the health of children, particularly given the spread of the trend of not vaccinating.
However , it seems it is not only health at risk, but education as well.
According to Trần Đắc Phu, head of the Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, if the vaccination rate in the community is between 90 and 95 per cent, the risk of the disease spreading becomes highly unlikely.
Although the country’s vaccination rate has reached more than 95 per cent, there are still thousands of children who have not been vaccinated or fully vaccinated each year, he said.
Most of the compulsory vaccinations are for under two-year-olds. They include tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.
And because children of that age are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases, Phu said vaccinations before enrolling in preschool would substantially limit the spread of the disease.
“The ultimate goal is to protect children's health and prevent diseases,” he told vovgiaothong.vn.
Thanks to the implementation of expanded national vaccination programmes, some infectious diseases including diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus have been eradicated in Việt Nam, according to Phu.
Many parents agreed with the rule, saying that children should be properly vaccinated against common infectious diseases before sending them to school.
Phan Lan Anh, from Đống Đa District, said school vaccination requirements existed not only in Việt Nam but also in developed countries like Italy and the United States.
It was reported that Italian children could be prevented from enrolling in school unless they have been properly vaccinated. Their parents risk being fined up to 500 euros (VNĐ13.2 million) if they send unvaccinated children to school.
“My sons get the vaccinations recommended under the national programme so it will be no problem if we are asked to hand in records,” she said.
Nguyễn Thị Xuân, a mother of two children in Hà Đông District, said vaccination requirements were essential to prevent the outbreak of such diseases as measles in Việt Nam.
However, she said, there was one month left to register for preschool and she had not heard any information about what she needed to do.
She has contacted the preschool that she intended to send their sons to and was told that her household registration book and a copy of birth certificates were needed.
Xuân suggested the regulation should be publicised on the mass media as early possible so that parents could get the vaccinations done on time.
When asked about the matter, Khuất Minh Tuấn, deputy director of Hà Nội Preventive Medicine Centre, said as public pre-schools were on summer vacation, next month the centre would work with the Hà Nội Education and Training Department to inform them about the new rule.
More than 50 per cent of children in the age of vaccination in Hà Nội were vaccinated at non-state facilities, according to Tuấn
There were a number of parents who against the vaccination for children therefore it was difficult to set up a database on the number of children get vaccinated.
He said the centre has proposed to the municipal People's Committee that health and education sectors would coordinate in keeping track of the vaccination status of children.
Setting up a database on vaccination records reminded mothers of the importance of vaccinations and keeping records.
“We will calculate the percentage of children who have inadequate injections, including those that are not injected vaccination on schedule and we will have plans to supplement for those who are fully immunised,” he said.
While the requirements got the approval from many parents, some still opposed the implementation of the new regulations.
Nguyễn Thu Huệ, a mother of three children from Hà Nội’s Từ Liêm District, said the regulation made the vaccination a pre-requisite for registering children in pre-school. It meant that if parents failed to present the necessary vaccination documents, the children were unable to attend school.
“It was unfair for them as the vaccination does not depend on the children but their parents,” she said.
Huệ said there were several reasons some children could not meet requirements like they are too young to be vaccinated or those with certain medical conditions or weak immunity.
She also proposed there should be penalties to deter violations because some parents might falsify claim their children were vacinated and that it would leave negative effect on the society.
As a mother of two, I totally agreed with her.
Encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated was necessary but instead of asking parents to present their vaccination certificates to schools for enrollment, gaining people’s trust in the programme is a priority. There are several ways to do this.
First of all, the health sector should strengthen supervision of vaccination activities, ensure the quality of vaccines to minimise defaults and above all make sure vaccinations are safe.
Giving children access to vaccination programmes is a must and so too is communication. Parents must fully understand about their rights and responsibilities.
Knowledge really is key. Only when they know all the facts laid in front of them, can parents make the right choices and then, and only then, might we fulfill the goals necessary to ensure future generations are healthy and educated. — VNS