Press Release
December 4, 2017


Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday called on the government to create a "Luzon and Cebu-wide database" to properly identify the thousands of children affected by an anti-Dengue vaccine that poses more risks for people who have not been infected by the virus before immunization.

Hontiveros, who is Chair of the Senate Committee on Women and Children, made the call after French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur issued an advisory warning the public against its own vaccine, Dengvaxia.

It was reported that the Philippines under the previous administration implemented a national school-based, anti-Dengue Immunization Program in 2016 using Dengvaxia. Over 700,000 Grade 4 students (at least 9 years old) in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and the National Capital Region have been given the dengue vaccine. Of the total number, health officials said that 70,000 are at risk.

Under the Duterte administration, the program was expanded to Region 7. Children aged nine to 14 in Cebu province were administered the first dose of the vaccine.

"Our primary concern right now should be the health and welfare of all those children exposed to unnecessary risk as a result of the immunization program. We need a database to identify the 70,000 affected children and know where they are exactly located in order for the government to keep track of their health and prepare the needed resources and logistics that will allow for quick and appropriate medical responses, if needed. This is our most urgent task. Laxity is not an option. We are racing against time. We must protect and ensure the good health of our children," Hontiveros said.

In a recent advisory, Sanofi said that new analysis of clinical data on Dengvaxia confirmed that for those not previously infected by dengue virus, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection. The vaccine only provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had prior infection.

"Sanofi urged to shoulder health needs of affected children, provide full compensation"

Hontiveros, who is also Vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, asserted that Sanofi bears the legal and ethical responsibility to shoulder the health needs of the affected children and fully compensate their families.

She also said that the Department of Health (DOH) owes the public an explanation on how the controversial vaccine was acquired in the first place and why it failed to heed the apprehension and warnings of medical experts on its potential dangers.

"Sanofi must be held responsible and the culpable health officials accountable. While vaccination and immunization are protective and essential elements of preventive health care, implementing an immunization program that could do more harm than good to our children is the height of negligence that could border on the criminal," Hontiveros ended.

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