Decision not to use Dengvaxia ‘flawed,’ say doctors’ groups
MANILA, Philippines — A group of doctors has slammed as “biased,” “flawed” and “premature” the recommendation of the Department of Health’s (DOH) dengue task force to disallow the use of the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in both public and private hospitals, saying it would negatively affect the country’s overall well-being.
The Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) said such decision would “deprive the people of their right to be free of dengue or reduce their chances of death and sickness” from the mosquito-borne disease.
“We predict [that this will lead to] a continuing high burden of dengue, an increase in medical costs and more lives sacrificed,” PFV executive director Dr. Lulu Bravo told the Inquirer on Wednesday.
While the DOH has yet to officially release its decision on pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur’s appeal to restore its certificate of product registration for Dengvaxia, dengue task force chief Eduardo Janairo said he had recommended that the vaccine be not used at all.
He cited the case of Calabarzon which continues to have the second highest incidence of dengue, despite its being one of the pilot areas where Dengvaxia was rolled out.
Janairo also pointed out that of the close to 172,000 children inoculated with the vaccine from their region in 2016, 98 have contracted the disease since January.
“Vaccines are supposed to prevent you from getting sick. If it were only one or two cases, we can forgive that. But these are 98 cases, that’s too many,” Janairo said.
But infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Salvana said Janairo should be reminded that “no vaccine is 100-percent effective.”
He added that the vaccine’s main effect is “to decrease the risk of severe dengue.”
“The correct question is ‘Did people who were vaccinated get severe dengue at a lower rate?’ And that requires measuring clinical outcomes,” Salvana said.
Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare coconvener Dr. Minguita Padilla, meanwhile, stressed that what various medical societies in the country want the DOH to do is allow the public to have access to the vaccine, even if the agency does not include it in the government’s mass vaccination program.
“Those who have had dengue infection can have the option of being vaccinated after their competent physicians have given them the correct information. Isn’t that a basic right?” Padilla asked.
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