DOH urged to conduct surveillance in wake of dengue vaccine risks

MANILA --The Department of Health (DOH) was urged Friday to put in place monitoring and public health surveillance to avoid medical disasters following an analysis made by a drug company that its dengue vaccine could pose risks for people who have not been previously infected by the virus.

Senator Nancy Binay said Sanofi's medical report was deeply shocking and disturbing to parents whose children have received the vaccine.

Binay asked both DOH and Sanofi to launch a nationwide medical advisory and information drive to reach out to parents whose children have taken the vaccine.

She said that parents needed to know the circumstances surrounding the vaccine, what symptoms should be monitored, precautions, indications, contraindications, side effects and possible adverse effects.

Obviously, there were shortfalls and gaps in the vaccine's safety profile, and I believe Sanofi is morally and ethically obliged to inform the public what severe diseases came out in their clinical tests," Binay said in a press statement.

In a statement, pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur said that individuals who have not been previously infected by dengue virus, vaccination should not be recommended.

The analysis confirmed that Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had a prior infection. For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however, the analysis found that in the longer term, more cases of the severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection, the Sanofi statement read.

Dengvaxia was licensed for use in the Philippines by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2015.

DOH earlier confirmed that it has administered the dengue vaccine to about 400,000 school children in Central Luzon, NCR, and Calabarzon. To date, the DOH has stopped implementation of its program.

Binay said the DOH should always consider safety as the paramount concern when it comes to any immunization program.

Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, said the DOH's procurement of dengue vaccines should be probed.

"That should be investigated by Blue Ribbon Committee as primary, with Committee on Health as a secondary committee since it's about corruption and accountability," Ejercito said in his official Twitter account.

Source: Philippine News Agency