Still alarmed by Dengvaxia*

MANY parents are still alarmed by the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine scare almost a year after the issue broke out. They refuse to have their children inoculated in the government’s various non-dengue vaccination programs even if the services offered are free.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the very low vaccination coverage for most regions already produced several outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles in early 2018. It said it is now faced with a challenge and cannot move forward due to the scare controversies left by Dengvaxia.

The Health department’s “Ligtas Tigdas” supplemental immunization activities (SIA), as well as the school-based and community immunization programs, took the biggest hit. Data from the DOH showed that as little as 36 percent of children in Metro Manila received the measles vaccine during the campaign.

A number of mothers refused to give their consent for their children to be inoculated in the regular school-based immunization for fear it might end up like Dengvaxia. This was quite alarming for DOH officials and workers since it is through the school-based immunization program that vaccines for diseases like measles, tetanus, diphtheria and cervical cancer are delivered to elementary students.

Can anyone blame the parents if they continue to fear Dengvaxia?

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The Dengvaxia controversy started in November 2017 when its manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, released an advisory warning that its vaccine could cause a person to later develop severe dengue if he or she had not been infected by the virus prior to immunization.

Attorney Persida Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), recently had the body of 11-year-old Levie Losanga from Quezon City exhumed from the Bagbag cemetery and autopsied by PAO forensic experts. A report said the child, the 88th victim of Dengvaxia, was supposedly given a dose of the vaccine under the DOH’s vaccination program.

Earlier, PAO performed an autopsy on the 87th victim, 12-year-old Eliza de Guzman, who was given three doses of the vaccine. Like other supposed victims, De Guzman and Losanga allegedly went through similar ordeals like multiple organ failure, severe cerebral hemorrhage and others.

The PAO chief should be commended for her efforts in continually monitoring and trying to help the families of children who allegedly died because of the vaccine. Instead, she is being criticized and condemned by former officials who gave their approval to the vaccine.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View.


*The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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