Amid the controversy surrounding the government’s dengue vaccination program, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reminded the public, especially parents, that the vaccine is not a “standalone” preventive measure against dengue.
“Dapat [isipin] ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga nanay, [na] ang bakuna ay ‘hindi standalone, hindi siya lamang ang inyong [aasahan] laban sa dengue," he said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB on Saturday morning.
He reminded the public to observe the Department of Health's anti-dengue program of action that includes searching and destroying possible breeding places for dengue-carrying mosquitoes, and seeking immediate medical intervention at the onset of dengue symptoms.
Dengue-carrying mosquitoes are known to breed in clean, stagnant water, he said.
As for symptoms, the health chief advised the public to watch out for high fever lasting for more than two days, pains in the joints, vomiting, loss of appetite, among others.
If these symptoms are observed, patients should be brought to the nearest hospital. In all cases, hydration is important. "Painumin ang pasyente ng maraming tubig," Duque added.
More than 830,000 school children in Regions 3, 4-A and the National Capital Region received shots of the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia as part of the government’s now-suspended school-based immunization program in 2016.
In late November, the manufacturer of Dengvaxia released an advisory saying new clinical analysis showed that while the vaccine is effective for people who have been infected with dengue prior to immunization, it may cause a “severe” dengue cases for people who have not.
This has caused fear and anxiety among parents of grade school students who were given Dengvaxia shots.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are conducting inquiries—in aid of legislation—into the purchase of the vaccine and the government’s dengue immunization program.
Among those who have made testimonies at the hearings are former President Benigno Aquino III, former Health Secretaries Janette Garin and Paulyn Ubial, and Dengvaxia maker Sanofi Pasteur's Asia Pacific head Thomas Triomphe.
Moreover, Duque said that the DOH has also embarked into "heightened" monitoring efforts through dengue immunization identification cards for individuals who received shots of the controversial dengue vaccine.
These cards are on top of public information campaigns through various media that the DOH will be pursuing, he said.
He also reiterated that the government’s overall immunization program—which includes vaccines against rabies, polio, measles, and others—remains reliable amid the dengue vaccine controversy. —LBG, GMA News