The Department of Health (DOH) had temporarily stopped its dengue vaccination program after Sanofi released a statement saying their clinical study showed that those not previously affected by dengue but received the vaccine Dengvaxia could acquire “severe disease”.
However, on Saturday, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said the vaccine provides two and a half years protection so parents should not worry as their children are still protected within that period.
The said statement coming from DOH was based on a document from pharmaceutical company, Sanofi and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“If dengue vaccination began April 2016, most likely the severe dengue manifestation will appear two and a half years henceforth.”
“The parents should not be alarmed because there is still the protection.”
DOH Secretary called it a “window of opportunity” before symptoms of Dengue are seen.
Apparently, in 2016, Philippines was the first country to implement the use of Dengvaxia as part of school’s immunization program which covered Grade 4 students from the National Capital Region and CALABARZON (Central Luzon, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Quezon).
At risk are some 70,000 children who were vaccinated under DOH’s program since 2016. A total of 733,713 were vaccinated but then, 90% among them have had acquired dengue.
But for the parents’ peace of mind, Duque claimed they will still clarify what Sanofi meant when it said “severe disease”.
“We’re awaiting Sanofi’s definitive definition of severe disease… Magulo e there is no clarity.”
Meanwhile, Duque is calling on parents to follow preventive measures to acquire dengue such as destroying possible breeding areas of mosquitoes, early consultation with the doctor for high fever lasting more than two days, using mosquito nets and mosquito fogging.
He also said that they were trying to come up with the master list of the 70,000 children who were vaccinated and may be at risk but then admitted that it will be quite hard to track the children. By identifying the children, they will increase surveillance to closely monitor the health condition of the children.
On the other hand, the Department of Education also committed to monitor the condition of the students who were formerly administered with the dengue vaccine.
In a statement made by Malacañang on Sunday, they will held those people involved in shameless public health scam liable and accountable for their actions.
In the meantime, Vice-President Leni Robredo released a statement saying parents whose children were vaccinated deserves to know the answers to questions about Dengvaxia vaccine and its effects.
“Pinakamahalaga na magkaroon ng kasagutan kung ano iyong epekto nito, kasi iyong mga magulang ng mga batang nabakunahan… kailangan nilang malaman ano iyong kailangan nilang gawin-kung talagang mayroon itong masamang epekto, ano ba iyong puwedeng gawin para mailigtas naman iyong kanilang mga anak.”
On Saturday, Senator Win Gatchalian also DOH needs to further explain the Dengvaxia vaccine scare which created panic among parents and the children who received the vaccine. “The DOH needs to do more to stay in control of the situation,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
In fact, the Philippine government had spent P3.5 billion on the dengue immunization program which was questioned by some doctors because Dengvaxia had not been approved that time by the World Health Organization.
As of this date, there are still 800,000 doses that are not yet used which amount to P800 million. The said doses will expire on August 2018.
DOH Secretary Duque concluded that the government has local and international experts whom they expect to come-up with evidenced possible options to address the problem of Sanofi.