THE Department of Health (DoH) has created a task force to monitor and attend to the health of those inoculated by the dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, which was revealed to cause severe dengue to those without prior infection.
The task force will be composed of top management officials from the DoH central office, regional offices of affected areas, attached agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and PhilHealth, and the National Children’s Hospital.
“This Task Force will conduct a thorough review of the dengue vaccination initiative which started in March 2016 and the new evidence on safety provided by Sanofi,” Duque said in a statement.
“This shall guide the Department of Health in responding to the safety concerns relevant to the use of this vaccine and how to proceed with the dengue program to ensure safeguards and prevent similar incidents in the future,” he added.
The health department is set to heighten surveillance and monitoring activities on about 830,000 students inoculated by the dengue vaccine by hiring and deploying 30 additional surveillance officers to hospitals in regions where the dengue immunization was conducted.
“We will be deploying them immediately for active surveillance and data collection in these hospitals. Surveillance will be done for five years,” the health chief said.
The DoH is still compiling names of children who were given Dengvaxia in coordination with their field officers and the Department of Education.
The group will also have its legal team look into the accountability of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, which initially vouched for the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, only to admit recently that those who had no prior dengue infection may run the risk of contracting a more severe case of the disease.
Duque said in a recent television interview that the government would sue the company and ask for an indemnity fund for children who would contract severe dengue.
“We will demand the refund of the P3.5 billion paid [by the government]for Dengvaxia, and that Sanofi set up an indemnification fund to cover the hospitalization and medical treatment for all children who might have severe dengue,” Duque said.
He said PhilHealth was ready to cover the expenses of any child who would be hospitalized for severe dengue. PhilHeath can allocate up to P16,000 for the hospitalization and doctor’s fees.
“We will continue to be vigilant in monitoring our children for any adverse event following immunization, and will strengthen the readiness of our public hospitals in attending to any severe dengue cases that may occur,” he said.
The DoH suspended last week the dengue immunization program following after Sanofi admitted to the adverse effects of Dengvaxia for those who would be exposed to the mosquito-borne disease for the first time. KENNETH HERNANDEZ