Few Boholanos, mostly children, were administered with the controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia after the drug company was able to “market” the vaccines to private pediatricians soon after its official launching was held in Manila in December 2015.
Dr. Ria Maslog, past president of the Bohol Pediatricians Association, confirmed to the Chronicle that some local pediatricians, including herself, were able to inject the vaccine. In fact, she admitted having administered the said vaccine to her own son previously infected with dengue.
There are about 20 pediatricians in the province. It could not be determined how many of these private pediatricians were able to get the supply of the vaccines from the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pastuer.
Like the rest of those who availed of the vaccines, the doctors wish their patients to be protected against dengue thus there were those who came to private clinics to have themselves injected with the vaccine.
Maslog, who attended a medical forum on Dengvaxia disclosed that the study of Sanofi covered those who completed the three doses applied once every six months.
The vaccine, made available on December 22, 2015 had no negative reviews and was considered effective based on evidence, according to Maslog.
Because of this development, provincial health authorities have still to determine as to the total number of Boholanos administered with the vaccine through private practitioners as both the Provincial Health Office (PHO) and the Department of Education (DepEd) clarified they did not carry out the national government’s mass immunization program.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Cabagnot is confident that none of the government agencies have carried out the immunization program as all kinds of vaccines allotted for public health facilities go through the PHO.
“On the government side, we have nothing to worry about as all of the vaccines from the Department of Health (DOH) pass through the PHO,” he said.
However, health authorities are having a hard time in determining who among physicians in the province used Dengvaxia particularly those who have not been coordinating with the government.
Cabagnot sought the support of the Bohol Medical Society (BMS) through its president, Dr. Marivic Nazareno to help identify physicians who have administered Dengvaxia to their patients.
NO VACCINE DRIVE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS HERE
The drop in the incidence of dengue cases in the province was the “saving grace” that exempted the province from the school-based dengue vaccination program of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Provincial Health Office (PHO).
According to Dr. Cabagnot, “even if the drop in the incidence of dengue cases by a mere 5 cases in 2016, it was enough for the Department of Health (DOH) to disqualify Bohol from availing of the free Dengvaxia vaccine.”
Data from the DOH Regional Office showed that all provinces in Region Vll (Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor) reported three times the increase in dengue cases except Bohol, according to Cabagnot.
“But we are still not out of the woods”, according to Cabagnot, since private medical practitioners were reported to have inoculated a number of their clients, especially children with the Dengvaxia vaccine.
NO PRIOR INFECTION
The controversy swirling around Dengvaxia, the first-ever vaccine against dengue fever manufactured by French pharmaceutical company, Sanofi S.A. blew into the open after results of six years of clinical data revealed new analysis that evaluated “the long-term safety of the vaccine in people who had been infected with dengue prior to vaccination and those who had not.”
According to Sanofi, Dengvaxia provides protection against those with prior infection but for those not previously affected, cases of the severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection.
Provincial health and education officials are now starting profiling procedures on students at the elementary level age 9-11 and secondary students between ages 12 and above.
Dengvaxia is recommended for individuals 9 years of age and older living in a dengue-endemic area, according to Sanofi.
With these latest developments, Sanofi has proposed a label update requesting health professionals “to assess the likelihood of prior dengue infection in an individual before vaccinating.”
“For individuals who have not been previously infected by the dengue virus, vaccination should not be recommended,” warned Sanofi.
With these forewarnings out, health and education authorities are closely monitoring those who have been injected with Dengvaxia without prior dengue infection with 2018 as the possible year when the three year gestation period will expire and the dreaded effects will start to manifest.
GOV’T TO SUE
The Department of Health is looking into the case of a 12-year old child who contracted dengue despite being immunized with Dengvaxia.
The government intends to sue Sanofi after authorities suspended the company’s Dengvaxia vaccines after its own warning that the drug could lead to severe infections in some cases.
The government is also looking at the possibility of asking Sanofi to refund P1.4 billion worth of unused vaccines and demanded that the drug maker set up an “indemnity fund” to cover the hospitalization of vaccinated kids who will fall ill. (with reports from Chito M. Visarra)