Probe of dengue vaccine purchase set

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate's Committee on Justice and Human Rights. AP FILE PHOTO

Sen. Richard Gordon said on Tuesday he would seek an investigation into what he said was the “undue haste” in providing a dengue vaccine worth P3.5 million to almost half-a-million children during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

Gordon said he and Sen. Nancy Binay were filing a resolution to investigate the immediate provision of the dengue vaccine, despite some questions regarding the safety of the new drug.

During a hearing on the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial assured Gordon that the newly registered vaccine was safe for use.

Gordon, however, appeared unconvinced. “There has been an awful lot of questions about this sudden, undue haste in providing the dengue vaccine,” he told reporters after the DOH budget hearing.

The vaccine is the first ever approved for use to prevent dengue, a mosquito-borne disease endemic in the Philippines.

Gordon expressed concern that children here were being used as “guinea pigs” since the country was the first in Asia to implement the vaccination.

The government purchased the dengue vaccine in March this year and was delivered in the same month. The vaccine was just registered by the Food and Drug Authority on Dec. 22, 2015.

The DOH started to give the first of three doses of the vaccine from April to July this year that benefited 489,003 children in Metro Manila, Southern Luzon and Central Luzon, said Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Eric Tayag.


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