Filipinos fear vaccine may trigger more severe Dengue

World Today

A word of caution from the manufacturer of the world’s first vaccine against Dengue fever.

The company said the shot does not protect those who have never suffered from the condition and may worsen the disease if contracted.

CGTN’s Barnaby Lo reports.

It startling news for hundreds-of-thousands of Filipino parents – following a mass-immunization effort by their government last year.

The Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the use of Dengvaxia, the world’s first Dengue vaccine.

Not long after that approval, it was distributed and administered by the government through a school-based immunization program.

Over 700,000 Filipinos, many of them children, received the vaccine over the past year believing it would protect them against Dengue.

Twelve year-old Iran Luste got vaccinated just last month, now he is suspected of having dengue.

“There’s news on TV that kids should not have been given the dengue vaccine, right? Now he has fever that comes and goes. I’m very worried,” Fe Luste, Iran’s grandmother said.

Gina Enriquez’s 10-year-old son had also been recently vaccinated.

“He had fever yesterday. I told him it’s his fault. He insisted on getting vaccinated. His father said, ‘No, it’s the health department’s fault,’” Enriquez said.

It is the government, particularly former President Benigno Aquino III, that has taken much of the blame for its decision to purchase $70 million worth of Dengvaxia while there were still concerns about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

Now, the manufacturer, Sanofi, says only those with a history of Dengue infection are protected by the vaccine.

“Sanofi voluntarily disclosed that those patients without previous infection, we call it seronegative, might have risk of dying or having severe diseases. And that’s really something that you cannot accept. Why? Because you sacrificed 700,000 kids in the country,” said Public Health Advocate Dr. Tony Leachon.

While an investigation is underway, the current government was quick to clarify that only a small fraction of those who received the vaccine are in danger of developing severe Dengue, and that “severe” doesn’t mean “deadly”.