The Department of Health (DOH) will extend its dengue vaccination program to Cebu, using vaccine left over from its program in Luzon, Asst. Health Secretary Eric Tayag said Friday.
Tayag said the vaccination program in Cebu will initially target Grade 4 students in Lapu-Lapu City and will use dengue vaccines not used for the program in Calabarzon and Central and Southern Luzon.
The DOH began the program in April 2016, and originally targeted 700,000 Grade 4 students from public schools in Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Southern Luzon.
However, only 489,000 students were vaccinated, Tayag said. Various problems such as the difficulty in obtaining consent forms from some parents kept the program from reaching its goal, he explained.
In addition, since the vaccination requires three doses administered six months apart, some students did not receive the second or third doses, he added.
The vaccine was also questioned by some health activists and members of Congress, who aired concerns about its effectiveness and the process by which it was procured by the DOH.
Tayag said Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial has already approved the use of the remaining vaccines for the program in Cebu.
The DOH’s announcement of the extended vaccination program was made during a forum on dengue fever and vector control organized by Bayer AG, which presented an online learning tool called the Mosquito Learning Lab.
“We developed Bayer Mosquito Learning Lab for the community to learn more about dengue and Zika, how to manage these diseases and their vectors,” said Bayer’s innovation manager Jason Nash.
Nash said the tool is intended to be an engaging way to educate the public about how to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in and around their homes.
Dengue is a viral disease that is transmitted through the day-biting Aedes aegypti mosquito, which breeds in small amounts of standing water. The mosquito is a prolific disease spreader, a known carrier of dengue virus, yellow fever virus, chikungunya virus, and Zika virus, and is thought to be capable of transmitting West Nile virus, Mayaro, and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.
The disease has an incubation period of four to 10 days, and its symptoms include the sudden onset of high fever that could last from three to seven days, severe headache, and muscle, joint and eye pain.
The DOH recorded 220,518 cases of dengue in 2016, with 1,092 deaths.