Press Release
December 7, 2017


Sen. Grace Poe today called on health officials to closely monitor children who have received the anti-dengue vaccines in the wake of reports that there may be increased risk for people who were administered the vaccine but not previously exposed to the mosquito-borne virus.

"It is important to account for children who received the vaccine amid new developments on its effects. Strict surveillance must be established to monitor any adverse effects and ensure that proper assistance will be given to those affected," Poe, a child advocate, emphasized.

The belated findings of Dengvaxia developer Sanofi Pasteur that the vaccine--despite being commercially available--is not recommended for those without prior infection of dengue came a year after foreign health experts warned of potentially higher risks if the vaccine is not administered correctly. This prompted the Department of Health (DOH) to suspend the sale, distribution and the ongoing vaccinations, and lawmakers to call for far-reaching investigation into the P3.5 billion program.

"The DOH should focus on the kids given the shots and determine if any medical intervention is needed given the information about the vaccine's effects," Poe added.

Poe also filed Senate Resolution No. 563 calling for a full-blown Senate inquiry into why the inoculation program was hastily approved despite the vaccine still undergoing trials.

The Philippines became the first country to roll out the anti-dengue vaccine early last year as the DOH launched a school-based immunization program in highly affected areas. Close to 800,000 public school children have received at least one dose of the three-shot vaccine.

Poe said the government should be ready to create a comprehensive database of people who have been injected with Dengvaxia, including those who have not been infected and those who have prior exposures, and determine any adverse effects following the immunization.

"We also seek the assistance of local government units in disseminating information coming from the DOH and other government agencies. If any of these initiatives would entail costs, the government should be ready with the funds and resources because at stake here are the lives of our children," said Poe.

This developed as news reports indicate that 997 people had fallen ill after being administered the first shot of Dengvaxia between March 18 and Aug. 20 last year. Thirty of those cases, which included two deaths, however, were not related to the immunization program, according to the DOH report to the House of Representatives committee on health that conducted an inquiry into the efficacy of the vaccine.

Despite this, Poe called on the government to ensure that there will be no repeat of the ill-planned immunization campaign.

Poe directed the DOH to exercise "due diligence" before undertaking such a massive program.

"Due diligence on the effects of the drugs should have been observed and clear lines of protocols should have been established before allowing vaccines to be administered to large groups, especially children," Poe said.

According to the senator, the DOH "should exercise more prudence before approving mass vaccination" considering that the agency is set to introduce new vaccines under its expanded program on immunization, such as that for Japanese encephalitis.

"The DOH officials have a sworn duty to uphold and safeguard public health," Poe said, and they are also duty-bound "to exercise caution and prudence in the formulation of health programs."

"Pharmaceutical companies should also be held responsible for selling vaccines that are still undergoing clinical trials and should be held equally accountable for any problem that arises from their manufactured vaccines," Poe stressed.

News Latest News Feed