The Aquino administration and the Department of Health maneuvered a P3.5-billion budget for a vaccine that has put at least 700,000 Filipino children at greater health risk. The decision of the authorities to procure, approve its commercial release, and implement the mass vaccination using Dengvaxia, all in haste, was based on political consideration and not on sound science.
Health groups and local experts have adamantly questioned all these beforehand but fell on deaf ears. A year after implementation, clinical trial results revealed that Dengvaxia causes severe dengue fever to those who have not contracted dengue before.
The Aquino administration, former health secretary Janette Garin, DOH, and Sanofi Pasteur must be held accountable for this deception. The DOH must also address the fears that this blunder have unleashed. How should the vaccinated children be protected from now on? What measures will be done to monitor those at risk and provide them with the means of proper healthcare to mitigate the risks?
The general notion that vaccines are meant to protect a person from infection has been marred with this withheld information on Dengvaxia that there is greater health risk for a segment of the target population. Sanofi now tries to console the public saying that around 80-90 percent of the population may have had dengue and were not even aware of it! Now it is everybody’s guessing game, with thousands of Filipino children systematically put in harm’s way.
To the parents and children: Do not panic! Ok lang magalit. Ask for explanations! Monitor health advisories and consult accordingly. Exercise your right to information and healthcare. Immunizations generally remain to be an important tool for prevention. Service and patient safety must guide the discovery and eventual use of new vaccines, not politics and profit motives. The Aquino administration, Garin, and the institutions involved must be held accountable.
JOSEPH CARABEO, MD, secretary general, Health Alliance for Democracy, email@example.com