ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) has unanimously approved the Compulsory Vaccination and Protection of Health Workers Bill 2019.
The bill was moved by PML-N Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq. If passed, it would declare the immunisation of children compulsory, and protect health workers designated for immunisation programmes.
Immunisation has been recognized all over the world as the most efficient and cost-effective strategy to control and prevent disease.
The senate meeting draft proposes that immunisation is the right of every child and the state is responsible for ensuring that these services reach every child. Public health workers will not be able to charge fees for vaccinations.
Any individual who propagates through written or spoken words against vaccination, or intimidates or obstructs a designated medical officer or health worker will be liable for up to six months in prison and/or a fine between Rs25,000 and Rs100,000.
Children who are not fit for vaccination would have to submit a certificate stating so from the designated medical officer.
The certificate must also name the disease due to which the child is not fit to be vaccinated, and must clarify whether the child is not fit for vaccination for a certain time period or throughout the child’s life.
The bill will make parents or guardians responsible for completing primary vaccinations before a child is six months old.
Health teams can be deputed at airports, railway and bus stations and any other location to vaccinate children passing through, the bill adds. Every health facility will have to maintain a monthly record of vaccinations that can be inspected at any time.
The NHS committee decided to pass the bill after considering it.
Senator Farooq told the media that the bill was originally tabled in 2015 and passed by Senate, but it was not considered for voting in the National Assembly because it reached the lower house on its last working day, when private members’ bills were not taken up.
“However, it has been passed to the committee again and now it will be sent to the upper house to be voted on. After that it will be sent to the National Assembly again. Once it becomes law, children in the federal capital will be protected from a number of diseases,” she said.