File photo shows Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Acosta together with families of children who received the Dengvaxia vaccine.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Acosta urges public to get vaccinated amid measles outbreak
( - November 30, 2018 - 3:06pm

MANILA, Philippines Amid a measles outbreak in parts of the southern Philippines, Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Acosta is urging the public to have themselves vaccinated against other preventable illnesses.

Acosta's call came months after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the measles outbreak was "partly" attributed to the Dengvaxia scare.

READ: Dengvaxia scare partly to blame for deadly measles outbreak — DOH

"We have eradicated measles like 10 years ago but it's coming back due to the low rates of vaccination within the communities," Duque told reporters in March. The vaccine is usually given to infants when they reach nine months of age.

"Before, they (children) would come to our health centers for their scheduled vaccines. Now we have to seek them (parents) out and convince them," he added.

Acosta said in Filipino in an interview with GMA's Unang Balita Friday morning that "she wasn't against tried-and-tested vaccines that aren't 'experimental' like Dengvaxia."

She then urged the public to get vaccinated "to be safe from the problems of disease and other epidemics spreading."

As early as February, Acosta had already linked the deaths of at least 39 children to the vaccine. “This is a medico-legal case. From the point of view of a lawyer, we can say that there is a strong link (between Dengvaxia and the cause of death),” Acosta said.

READ: File murder raps in Dengvaxia – Duterte

Prior to Acosta's statement agreeing with Duque that the public should get vaccinated   the Health secretary said in April that the PAO chief made a "circus" out of the Dengvaxia issue.

“It’s really embarrassing that we are both in government and yet we are fighting. Attorney Acosta knew the situation and even at the Senate, my name never came out (as involved),” he said then.

READ: DOH chief to consult Duterte over Acosta's Dengvaxia 'circus'

He accused the PAO chief of distorting facts concerning the controversial anti-dengue vaccine.

Acosta had also sued Duque for obstruction of justice for not turning over a master list of patients who received the dengue vaccine.

Duque said during a House inquiry on Dengvaxia vaccine last February: "Thirty-nine have been reported dead so far. Right now, this is being investigated. These people were injected with dengvaxia but the deaths of the 39 cannot be directly concluded as having been caused by the vaccine."

READ: No solid proof yet dengvaxia caused deaths of 39 – DOH chief

The controversy over the vaccine began after Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur warned in November 2017 that the vaccine may increase risk in patients without prior exposure to dengue fever, about a year after the government began vaccinating thousands of children.

But Sanofi and the government deny that the vaccine directly resulted in the deaths of anyone who received the vaccination. — Ryan Macasero

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