DOH starts dengue vaccination drive

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) formally kicked off its school-based dengue vaccination program at Parang Elementary School in Marikina yesterday.

“(This) will be a historic milestone in public health for the Philippines... We are the first country to introduce, adopt and implement the first-ever dengue vaccine through the public health system and in a public school setting,” DOH Secretary Janette Garin said.

The Philippines is one of five countries that licensed Dengvaxia, the tetravalent dengue vaccine manufactured by France-based Sanofi Pasteur. The others are Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador and Paraguay.

Under the P3.5-billion program, one million grade four students, aged nine, will be vaccinated in the National Capital Region, Region 4-A and Region 3, the three regions with the highest dengue cases.

The vaccine is administered in three doses, six months apart.

Some health experts criticized the DOH vaccination drive pending the results of a study on the vaccine’s antibody dependence enhancement (ADE).

Antonio Dans, a professor at the University of the Philippines’ College of Medicine, said while the vaccine could initially lower the number of dengue cases, “it could later increase the severity of the disease for those who get it.”

Citing Sanofi’s own studies, Dans claimed ADE could happen by the third year after vaccination.

Philippine College of Physicians Foundation president Anthony Leachon, on the other hand, said the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on the vaccine has not released its report on the drug.

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