Senior citizens, baby allegedly among Dengvaxia recipients: expert

Jamaine Punzalan. ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2017 09:48 AM

FILE PHOTO: People display signs and a mock syringe, with the phrase "P3.5 billion Dengvaxia fund investigate" featured on it, during a protest in front of the Philippine Department of Health (DOH), December 5, 2017. The poster (L) reads: "Sanofi and DOH should be held accountable". Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - A retired official of the World Health Organization (WHO) urged the government Wednesday to look into reports that a group of senior citizens and a 1-year-old infant allegedly received the controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. 

"Mayroon akong nakuha [na sumbong] ngayon galing sa Agusan del Sur, isang grupo raw sila ng mga senior citizen. Nabakunahan daw sila... Mayroon akong nakukuhang 1-year-old na nabakunahan daw ang anak nila," Dr. Susan Mercado, former director of the Noncommunicable Diseases division at WHO's Regional Office for the Western Pacific, told radio DZMM. 

"Maaaring nabakunahan ang mga bata o tao na akala nila Dengvaxia, pero hindi. Kailangan nating aralin, imbestigahan iyan." she added. 

(I received reports that a group of senior citizens from Agusan Del Sur was vaccinated. I also received information from parents claimiing that their 1-year-old chud was vaccinated. It is possible that they mistakenly thought that they received Dengvaxia. We need to study and investigate this.) 

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The Philippines in 2016 became the first country to use Dengvaxia in a public immunization program that vaccinated 733,000 public school students. The vaccine was also available in consultation with doctors for P4,000 per dose or P12,000 for all 3 doses. 

French drug maker Sanofi, however, disclosed this month that Dengvaxia could cause "more cases of severe disease," if administered to those who have not had dengue, prompting the government to suspend the vaccination program and order the market pullout of dengvaxia. 

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Some 32,000 individuals received Dengvaxia in private hospitals before its sale was suspended, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed. 

"Ang huling ulat sa akin ay may 32,000 patients na galing sa pribadong sektor na naturukan at ang concentration nito ay sa NCR," he said in a separate DZMM interview. 

"Atin ding minamatyagan iyan at kasama iyan sa ating heightened surveillance efforts."

(The latest report I received says 32,000 patients from the private sector were vaccinated and most of them are from NCR. We are also monitoring them and they are included n our heightened surveillance efforts.)

Duque urged vaccine recipients to consult doctors immediately if they experience dengue symptoms like high fever, muscle pain, vomiting, fatigue and skin rash. 

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will shoulder P16,000 for each case of the mosquito-borne infection, he earlier said. 

The Senate, House of Representatives and National Bureau of Investigation meanwhile have launched separate probes into the Dengvaxia controversy.