Tools to exercise the right to vaccination in boys and girls – El Sol de México

By Andrés Castañeda Prado

In Mexico, the General Health Law highlights universal and free access to vaccines as an inalienable right for all the country’s inhabitants, placing special emphasis on the protection of maternal and child health.

It establishes the government’s responsibility to ensure the application of all vaccines of the Universal Vaccination Program (PVU). This regulation guarantees that any person, regardless of their status as insured in health systems or their immigration status, has the right to these vaccines.

Currently the 13 PVU vaccines are: BCG – Prevents tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, Hexavalent-Protection against Diphtheria, Haemophilus influenzae type b, Poliomyelitis, Tetanus, Whooping Cough and Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, Pneumococcus, SRP (Measles, Rubella, Mumps), DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus), Influenza, HPV (Human Papillomavirus), SR (Measles, Rubella), Pneumococcus for adults, Td (Tetanus, Diphtheria), and acellular Tdpa (Tetanus, Diphtheria).

In our country, Unlike other countries, there is wide acceptance of vaccination. Then, if there is a will and it is a right, we would be expected to have very high levels of coverage; However, in recent years we have faced significant gaps in access to vaccines, with coverage below 70% in 2022, well below the goal. Furthermore, these coverages vary considerably between states with coverage for children under one year old, ranging from 93% in the State of Mexico to 69% in Chihuahua.

Vaccination is a right for everyone, and also an obligation. If vaccination coverage decreases, it leaves us vulnerable to diseases. So what can we do? The exercise of the right to vaccination presents particularities that are different from other health services. It is not always perceived as a right or an urgent need and is frequently relegated in favor of other health emergencies. In addition, vaccination schedules are subject to constant changes, which can cause confusion.

It is crucial that people know the mechanisms to enforce this right. We can divide these into individual and collective ones.

Individual Mechanisms: These include institutions that protect and promote public health and individual rights. The Internal Control Body in health institutions, the National Medical Arbitration Commission (CONAMED), and the National Human Rights Commission are examples of this. In addition, the Judicial Branch of the Federation allows indirect protections to be filed to protect violated rights, including those related to vaccination.

Collective Mechanisms: These are crucial given the complexity of vaccination and its collective consequences. They allow communities and interest groups to act together in defense of the right to public health. Transparency in the acquisition and distribution of vaccines is key, and can be promoted through surveillance and program monitoring by civil society.

Participation in health councils and community action groups allows you to influence health policies and practices. Strategic litigation strategies and collective mobilizations are powerful tools for significant changes in vaccination policy and practice.

These approaches are complementary and essential. While individual mechanisms address specific cases, collectives seek structural improvements that benefit society as a whole.

As I expressed in the Vaccination for Children Forum: #YesWe Can held on November 30, convened by the Pact for Early Childhood in coordination with 13 organizations, citizen demand and organization are fundamental to guarantee access to vaccines and protect the health of girls and boys. Vaccination is an individual right and a collective responsibility. Through participation and informed demand we can overcome current challenges, team up with government, industry, academia and civil society to ensure a healthier future for our boys and girls.

Vaccination is everyone’s right and responsibility. Let us not allow it to be violated.

#YesWeCan Make a Difference.

* Andrés Castañeda Prado is Research Coordinator of the Department of Public Health at UNAM and advisor to the health and well-being causes of Nosotrxs | X: @castanedaprado | @Covenant1aChildhood

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