Hontiveros bats for database to identify 70K children affected by anti-dengue vaccine
Senator Risa Hontiveros is urging the government to create a “Luzon and Cebu-wide database” to properly identify the more than 70,000 children reportedly affected by an anti-dengue vaccine called Dengvaxia.
No less than the French pharmaceutical giant, Sanofi Pasteur, had admitted that its own vaccine may be potentially harmful when administered to individuals not previously infected with dengue.
“Our primary concern right now should be the health and welfare of all those children exposed to unnecessary risk as a result of the immunization program,” Hontiveros, chair of the Senate committee on women and children, said in a statement on Monday.
“We need a database to identify the 70,000 affected children and know where they are exactly located in order for the government to keep track of their health and prepare the needed resources and logistics that will allow for quick and appropriate medical responses, if needed.”
“This is our most urgent task. Laxity is not an option. We are racing against time. We must protect and ensure the good health of our children,” she added.
The senator noted earlier reports that over 700,000 Grade 4 students, who were at least nine years old, in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and the National Capital Region had been given the anti-dengue vaccine when the national school-based anti-Dengue Immunization Program, using Dengvaxia, was implemented by the previous administration in 2016.
The program, she said, was even expanded to Region 7 under the Duterte administration. Children aged nine to 14 in Cebu province were administered the first dose of the vaccine.
But some reports claimed that about 10 percent of the total 700,000 plus vaccinated children or over 70,000 have not had prior dengue infection.
Hontiveros, who is also vice-chair of the Senate committee on health and demography, said Sanofi should bear the legal and ethical responsibility to shoulder the health needs of the affected children and fully compensate their families.
The Department of Health (DOH), she said, also owes the public an explanation on how the controversial vaccine was acquired in the first place and why it failed to heed the apprehension and warnings of medical experts on its potential dangers.
“Sanofi must be held responsible and the culpable health officials accountable. While vaccination and immunization are protective and essential elements of preventive health care, implementing an immunization program that could do more harm than good to our children is the height of negligence that could border on the criminal,” said the senator. /kga
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