Dengvaxia Controversy: and a nation’s desperate fight against dengue

Ten percent of the 800,000 children who received the dengvaxia vaccine through the Philippine Department of Health dengue immunization program in 2016 are now at risk of contracting a much severe form of dengue that could prove fatal.

Yes, a vaccine that was supposed to save their lives may now be putting the lives of around 80,000 children at risk.

This is after Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur released the results of their study this month stating that after trials and testing, the Dengvaxia vaccine could cause “severe illness” in children without previous dengue infection prior to getting the vaccine.

Out of the 800,000 children who were immunized around 80,000 or 10 percent have not had prior dengue infection.

The 800,000 children who got the vaccine for free does not include the number of children who had to pay thousands for the vaccine that was given by their pediatricians.

Also read Timeline: The Dengvaxia Controversy

Now the current government has put the immunization program on hold and is demanding the manufacturer to refund the full 3.5 billion pesos spent for the vaccines.

In addition to this, former Department of Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa alleges that former Health Secretary Janette Garin conspired with Sanofi Pasteur to “hurriedly implement” the vaccination program.

Herbosa says it was abruptly implemented and slams Garin’s meeting with Sanofi in Paris in 2015 saying a meeting with a supplier prior to a bidding is inappropriate. He also says the vaccines were overpriced.

Garin said she is willing to face investigations and open to facing consequences.

The House of Representatives and the Senate will continue investigation tomorrow December 11.

It is important to note that amid this controversy are more than 80,000 parents who are caught between the crossfire. Parents who are dead worried for their children, who feel disappointed and confused. So what happens to them now? What happens to their children?

Share your thoughts please!

Author: Loraine Balita-Centeno

I'm a Manila based journalist who's been working in the industry for 12 years. I've written pieces for newspapers and magazines based in Manila and some abroad. I'm a work-at-home-mom of two so I spend my days writing or editing with a toddler clamped around one leg and a pre-schooler asking me questions every 10 minutes.

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