Families of 289 registered Dengvaxia vaccine recipients went to the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) in Quezon City in coordination with Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on Monday to seek medical and legal counsel.
This was after French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur disclosed that people who have not had dengue prior to vaccination were at higher risk of acquiring a severe one, which prompted the government to suspend the vaccination program.
The parents of the recipients, mostly residing in Pasay City, faced the media with lingering fear and worries in their faces.
“Three of my children were vaccinated in November. We’re worried because we have heard stories of children who have died because of dengue,” Romel Bejano told The Manila Times.
Bejano said he immediately went to the health center in Pasay City in November, right after the free anti-dengue vaccine was endorsed to their barangay.
Fortunately, his children have not exhibited any signs of illness after the vaccination, he said.
Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta also showed reporters the death certificate of 13-year-old Rey Jazztine Alimagno who died on January 3 of “Dengue shock syndrome.”
“On December 27, I hugged my child. I didn’t know that would be the last,” said Jeffrey Alimagno, Rey Jazztine’s father.
Alimagno, who lived separately from his son, said his child looked healthy when they reunited last Christmas. He only heard the news that his son was rushed to the hospital on January 2 and died the next day.
“I just saw in the morgue that he had blood coming out of his nose and mouth,” he tearfully narrated.
Rey Jazztine was one of five children who have died shortly after getting the Dengvaxia shots.
The other children were 10-year-old Anjielica Pastillos, 10-year-old Lennard Baldonado, 11-year-old Christine de Guzman, and 11-year-old Zander Colite. Their parents have also sought PAO’s legal assistance.
According to Erwin Herfe, PAO’s forensics expert, three of the victims who underwent autopsy exhibited similar results—enlarged organs and extensive bleeding of the kidney, spleen and lungs within six months after vaccination.
However, Colite’s cause of death was “abdominal acute appendicitis,” while Baldonado died of “acute respiratory failure and pulmonary congestion,” as written on their death certificates, according to their parents.
“The bodies of the children, they don’t lie. Their sickness progressed quickly,” Acosta noted.
Acosta had called out health officials who claimed that the Dengvaxia shots were not responsible for the deaths of vaccinated children.
Acosta said more than 300 families of Dengvaxia vaccine recipients have already sought PAO’s assistance.
While the culprits have yet to be named, the PAO chief said they would be charged with reckless imprudence and criminal negligence with corresponding civil damages.
Meanwhile, the VACC launched its Dengvaxia Monitoring Desk in cooperation with PAO and health workers from the Department of Health in the National Capital Region, and regions of Central Luzon (Region 3) and Calabarzon (Region 4-A) to assist patients and families who want to file complaints.
According to VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez, more than 830,000 children from public schools in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Cebu had been administered with the controversial vaccine since 2016.
“VACC will not only help the families file complaints against those responsible, we will also oversee medical check-ups in municipal health offices as soon as possible,” Jimenez said.