ANTI-CORRUPTION advocates on Wednesday said a 10-year-old girl who died six months after being inoculated with Dengvaxia may have been the first fatality of the dengue vaccine.
Dante Jimenez, chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), said his group is gathering cases of children who died or fell ill after getting the anti-dengue vaccine developed by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur.
Jimenez cited the case of Christine Mae de Guzman, a grade four pupil from Bataan who died six months after receiving the initial dose of the vaccine in 2016.
The girl’s parents said their child has not been infected with the dengue virus before her immunization on April 4, 2016 as part of the Dengue School-Based Immunization program, of the Department of Health (DoH).
Six months after she received the dose, Christine fell ill. She died on October 15, 2016 at the Bataan General Hospital (BGH) in Balanga City. Doctors said the cause of death was intravascular coagulation and severe dengue.
“The case of Christine is the result of the massive irresponsible and indiscriminate vaccination done by former officials of the DOH led by then Secretary (Janette) Garin during the administration of former President (Benigno) Aquino,” Jimenez said.
The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) of the Philippines has ordered the recall of Dengvaxia.
The previous administration spent P3.5 billion to procure the newly registered Dengue vaccine.
Jimenez said his group is investigating two other cases similar to Christine’s – one in Bulacan province and another in Bataan.
He added that VACC central Luzon coordinator Pyra Lucas is looking at the case of a child in Tarlac who showed “symptoms” of the vaccine’s ill- effects.
“We will make sure that after we have gathered all the evidence, a class suit against the supplier and those who
implemented the vaccination program will be filed,” Jimenez said.
The VACC will also determine if there was corruption in the procurement of the vaccines. The vaccine was only registered with the FDA on December 22, 2015 and the government made the procurement on March 2016 and administered it to children in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and the National Capital Region (NCR) in April.
The fund used to procure the vaccines was provided by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) from unobligated balances from the previous year.
“There were claims that the vaccines were overpriced, and the money were used to fund the campaign of the candidates of the administration,” Jimenez said.
Cry for justice
Nelson and Marivic de Guzman on Wednesday sought justice for Christine.
“Sana magkaroon ng hustisya ang pagkamatay ng anak ko. Siguro hindi mamamatay anak ko kung hindi nabakunahan kasi hindi sakitin anak ko. First time niya magkasakit ng grabe at diretso (We hope my daughter will get justice. Maybe she would stil be alive today if she was not inoculated. My daughter was never sick. It was the first time that she fell ill),” Marivic, 34, said.
“Gusto namin magkaroon ng hustisya, managot ang may (kasalanan). Kung hindi nasaksakan ang bata, baka buhay pa siya (We want justice. Whoever is responsible should pay. If the child was not immunized, she would still be with us),” Nelson said.
“Hindi pa nagkaka-dengue anak ko bago mabakunahan (My daughter never had dengue before her vaccination),” Nelson said.
Christine was the eldest of three children. She was in Grade 5 at the Sisiman Elementary School in Mariveles.
Nelson said on October 11, 2016, Christine went to school but came back home before lunch.
“Sumasakit ang ulo at nahiga. Kinabukasan nilagnat. After two days, dinala namin sa Maheseco Hospital sa Mariveles at na-check na may dengue. After 24 oras, inilipat namin sa BGH. Kinabukasan (October 15, 2016), namatay siya (Her head was aching so she rested. The following day she ran a fever. After two days, we took her to the Maheseco Hospital and they determined that she had dengue. After 24 hours, we transferred her to the Bataan General Hospital. The following day, she died),” Nelson said.
WITH ERNIE B. ESCONDE