Controversy on the safety of Dengvaxia dengue vaccine stirred Boholanos even as there had been an assurance that the government-sponsored vaccination has not reached Bohol.
This is considering that there had been reports in March last year that Bohol pediatricians had arranged the first market of the dengue vaccine called Dengvaxia here.
It had even been reported that vials of Dengvaxia vaccine was expected to arrive in the later part of March last year.
Since then, there had been no update as to whether the transaction pushed through or not.
As this remained hanging in the eyes of the public, concerned citizens reached out to the media to call for a localized fact-finding on such transaction to appease the public.
This is amid the clarification made by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reymoses Cabagnot that no single vial of Dengvaxia made it to Bohol out of the P3.5-billion worth of such dengue vaccine purchased by the government early last year.
Provincial Schools Division Superintendent Wilfreda Bongalos, for her part, assured that the record of the Department of Education shows that none among the students in Bohol had been vaccinated with Dengvaxia as part of the government’s immunization program.
She added that the Department of Health (DOH) previously coordinated with DepEd-Bohol supposedly for the anti-dengue vaccination campaign but no vial of such vaccine had been delivered.
However, a group of concerned citizens said this is only as far as government-sponsored immunization program is concerned.
There is a need to check the records at private clinics of pediatricians.
The controversy cropped up after the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) issued a report that three children who have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia had already died.
In Geneva, Reuters reported that the World Health Organization issued a statement expressing support to the “decision by the Philippines Department of Health…to suspend vaccinations with Sanofi’s dengue drug Dengvaxia”.
The WHO added like other sectors in the Philippines, the organization is also “awaiting the expert analysis of new data and advice about its implications for use of the vaccine” and that the decision of DOH to “suspend the ongoing vaccination program until more information is available…is appropriate in the circumstances”.
The DOH announced the suspension of the mass vaccination program on Friday, two days after French pharmaceutical company, Sanofi Pasteur, disclosed that the vaccine could be harmful to people without prior infection.
After the disclosure, Sanofi, however, allayed fears on the dangers of the vaccine, noting that it was subjected to rigorous tests for 20 years.
Health authorities last week launched an investigation on the case while Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, chair of the Senate health committee, said that he intends to conduct an inquiry into the dengue vaccination program.
So far, 733,000 public school students aged 9 and above in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon have been administered with the vaccine.
The mass immunization program was launched in April last year.
Government payment to Sanofi for the billions-worth of vaccines has been completed.
The DOH had already incorporated dengue vaccination using Dengvaxia in the National Immunization Program (NIP).
For piloting, the national government targeted Regions 3, 4A and the NCR in the schedule implemented in April, May and June last year.
These areas had been chosen based on the record that shows that these areas posted the most number of dengue cases in the country.
Outside these areas that the national government’s NIP covers, pediatricians offer the vaccines at their clinics.
After the piloting, the vaccine had been made available in areas outside targeted Regions 3, 4A and the NCR.
In fact, some schoolchildren in Cebu had already received shots of the Dengvaxia vaccine, including Boholano children who enrolled in schools in Cebu.