MANILA - The first shipment of dengue vaccines has arrived in the Philippines, and will be immediately available in the private market.

The vaccine, developed by Sanofi Pasteur, has three doses and should be administered in intervals of six months.

Medical societies, including the Philippine Pediatric Society, the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines jointly welcomed the arrival of the vaccine.

Over 110,000 people get dengue in the Philippines every year, with 70 percent of patients aged nine years old and above.

In December 22, 2015, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration granted marketing authorization of the tetravalent dengue vaccine, making the Philippines the first country in Asia to approve licensure.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Janette Garin said the government will start its school-based dengue immunization by April.

"The government will be implementing the introduction of the dengue vaccine as part of its school-based immunization, which will be covering grade 4 students in public schools in NCR (National Capital Region), Region III and Region IV-A."

"We intend to implement it during the months of April, May and June. We will hold an orientation of the teachers and the parents, taking the consent of the parents on the actual vaccine implementation," she said in an interview on ANC.

Garin added that NCR, Region III and Region IV-A were prioritized in the immunization due to the high transmission rate of dengue in these areas.

She also said that the government will be spending P3 billion for the vaccines.

Garin, however, refused to disclose the unit price for the vaccine, adding that the government got the vaccines for a lower price compared to that in the private market. - with ANC

READ: PH spending P3-B on dengue vaccines