Immunization program in Lapu-Lapu City suspended
CEBU CITY—Health authorities have suspended an immunization drive in a village in Lapu-Lapu City following the deaths of two infants days after they were given shots at Barangay Pajac health center.
The Lapu-Lapu City government, through the city legal office, and the Department of Health (DOH) regional office in Central Visayas are looking into the deaths of 4-month-old Ayesha Suson and 3-month-old Ghirvaughn Limpangog on Nov. 11, three days after they were given pentavalent vaccine under the government’s immunization program.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, DOH regional director, said he would convene experts from the Regional Adverse Effects Following Immunization Committee to conduct an “impartial investigation” of these cases.
The DOH agreed to suspend its immunization program in Pajac on the request of Mayor Paz Radaza.
Authorities wanted to check reports reaching Radaza that the vaccines given to the infants on Nov. 8 were not kept in a cooler before these were used.
The infants’ families, who asked for an investigation, had suspected the two might have died due to improper administration of vaccine. They agreed to have the bodies autopsied.
“All we want is justice for these two infants,” said Lynlen Suson, Ayesha’s mother.
Bernadas, however, said the DOH’s investigation showed that Suson and Limpangog died due to preexisting illnesses that had nothing to do with the vaccine administered by the health center.
According to Bernadas, the DOH has been supplying pentavalent vaccines to health centers since 2013 as part of its expanded program of immunization but there has been no deaths traced to its use.
“Our immunization program is safe for the children,” Bernadas assured.
Pentavalent provides young children with protection against five life-threatening diseases, which include diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and hemophilus influenza B. The vaccine has not been associated with any serious side effects, the DOH said.
Dr. Ramon Najarro, head of the Department of Pediatrics at Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), said the infants were already “in really bad condition” when they were taken to the hospital on Nov. 10 and 11.
Najarro said Limpangog had a fever and had developed seizures while Suson was suffering from cough, diarrhea and severe dehydration when admitted to VSMMC. —REPORTS FROM FE MARIE DUMABOC, JESSA MAE SOTTO AND NORMAN MENDOZA
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.