Vaccine for Japanese encephalitis out of stock
SAN PEDRO CITY — Single mother Pamela Flores, 25, has heard about Japanese encephalitis (JE). But when told about the cost of the vaccine, Flores, an average-wage earner from this city, said she could not afford it for her 3-year-old son.
“That’s expensive. We just get Pio’s (her son) vaccines from the (government health) center. I’ll probably just pray for him,” Flores said.
In a similar situation, Cristina Hubid said she would have wanted to get the vaccine for her 4-year-old son. But the price of the vaccine, ranging from P2,800 to P4,000 per shot depending on the hospital where it was availed of, costs more than her month’s salary as a house helper.
JE is a vector-borne disease transmitted by the culex mosquito. It commonly causes abdominal pains, fever and seizures.
According to the World Health Organization, the “case-fatality” rate among those with JE “can be as high” as 30 percent, meaning three out of 10 stricken by JE could die.
The vaccines were not only expensive, but in Laguna, they were hard to find.
The Inquirer on Monday asked a number of private hospitals in the province and was told that they had run out of stock of the vaccine.
Most of JE cases involved children. There is also no cure for the disease.
“There is a demand probably because of the scare. I’m receiving a lot of calls asking me to reserve them a vaccine,” said Laguna provincial health officer Dr. Rene Bagamasbad on the shortage of the vaccines.
In Laguna, the health office recorded two confirmed cases—a 9-year-old child who died in Calauan town, and a 6-year-old from San Pablo City. The child from San Pablo survived.
There are several suspected cases of JE but Bagamasbad said tests done at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City usually takes two weeks.
In the Philippines, the only available brand of the vaccine at present is the Imojev, which is being supplied by pharmaceutical company, Sanofi Pasteur, said Bagamasbad.
On Monday, he said he had talked with representatives of Sanofi but was told there had been no new supply.
Bagamasbad said he talked with several distributors and drugstores and was told that a fresh batch of the vaccine should be available “middle to end of this week.”
The Department of Health, in a statement, said it planned to include the JE vaccine in the government’s national immunization program by next year.
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