By Addison Pascua

PHOTO: City Government of Davao

As the country braces for the return of in-person classes next school year, the Department of Health (DOH) once again reiterated that students are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but they are still encouraged to do so.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on Friday, DOH Officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire highlighted the need to incentivize and open vaccination sites in schools to further urge students, including teachers and parents, to get the jab.

“Definitely, vaccination should not be a prerequisite to going to school. This would disenfranchise other children whose parents would really not allow their children to have themselves vaccinated. Education is a right,” Vergeire noted.

“What we need to do is we need to incentivize and also need to encourage mothers, guardians, that their children get vaccinated. What we need to do for the government would be to ensure there’s this safe environment for children when they get the vaccine,” she further explained.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte earlier announced that School Year 2022-2023 will start on August 22, with the usual five-day in-person classes set to kick off by November 5 in all public and private schools nationwide.

More than a month before the opening of classes, latest data from the health department showed that at least 9.6 million adolescents have already been vaccinated, of which 3.7 million have received both of their first and second vaccine doses.

Edited by Danfe Lean Grace R. Elopre