MANILA - Nearly 2,000 people injected with the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia have been hospitalized after contracting dengue in the past 2 years, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.
Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said from March 2016 to March 2018, a total of 1,967 people injected with Dengvaxia were hospitalized after contracting dengue.
The figure is part of 3,281 Dengvaxia vaccinees who were hospitalized due to different illnesses.
"Of the 3,281 patients who reported showing serious adverse events following immunization, 1,967 or almost 2,000 were found to have contracted dengue," Domingo said in a press briefing.
He said this was confirmed through clinical and serological testing.
Others meanwhile contracted viral infections, influenza-like illnesses, pneumonia, and acute gastroenteritis.
The government's nationwide dengue immunization program was suspended in December following the admission of drug-maker Sanofi Pasteur that its Dengvaxia vaccine may cause more severe dengue symptoms if given to those who had never contracted the mosquito-borne disease.
Some 830,000 children were inoculated under the program.
Sanofi's caution on Dengvaxia triggered a health scare, but the firm has asserted that no death due to the vaccine has been reported.
Domingo said the health department is also investigating 65 deaths being linked to the controversial vaccine.
He however allayed fears of parents, saying 98 percent of Dengvaxia vaccinees hospitalized were treated.
"We would like to emphasize that of the 3,281 hospitalized, 98 percent of the patients were sent home well," he said.
As of April 5 this year, Domingo said the health department has released P17 million of financial aid to Dengvaxia vaccinees who were hospitalized in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog region, and Cebu.
Domingo also encouraged parents who notice symptoms of illnesses in their children to seek medical consultation as soon as possible.
"As soon as signs and symptoms are noted, we would like to ask the parents to bring their children in because we know that the earlier they come in, the easier management is, and of course the chance of recovery is higher," he added.
The DOH last month inked an agreement with hospital groups for the establishment of "express lanes" in hospitals for people injected with Dengvaxia who would seek medical treatment.