Public schools to receive dengue vaccines

The Department of Health (DOH) spearheads the administration of dengue vaccines to a number of 9-year-old students in public schools residing in Region III, IV-A, and National Capital Region (NCR). The Philippines is the second country to license dengue vaccines in December 2015.

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Based on the statistics gathered by DOH in 2015, ages 9-12 years old have the most number of cases and deaths attributed to dengue. Moreover, according to an unpublished cost-effectiveness study done by Professor Hiltom Lam of the UP-National Institutes for Health, a nationwide routine vaccination of 9 year olds starting in 2016 will lead to an estimated 24.2 percent reduction in dengue cases over a 5-year time horizon.

As of February 20, 2016, a total of 18,790 suspect dengue cases were reported nationwide. This is 13.2 percent higher compared to the same time period last year which had a total of 16,606 cases. Most of the cases were from Region IV-A with 3,182 cases out of 18,790 (16.9%); Region III with 2,596 cases (13.8%) and NCR with 1,479 cases (7.9%).

The dengue vaccine, which will be administered to selected elementary public school students, has been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This vaccine is the result of more than a decade of efficacy and safety studies across ten endemic countries, including more than 30,000 children from various countries. Twenty three additional clinical studies were considered as basis for approval. The vaccine was given exemption by Formulary Executive Council (FEC).

While the World Health Organization (WHO) is still waiting for the final recommendation of Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), the WHO country office representative offered to assist the Philippines in terms of technical advice, especially in monitoring and surveillance of possible side effects and review of protocols.

Dengue vaccine

The vaccine will comprise of three doses. The next two doses will be given to the same students who received the first dose in six monthly intervals. The DOH together with the Department of Education collaborated in the implementation of the vaccine. A parental consent shall be obtained prior to the administration of the vaccine.

The DOH established a strict monitoring and surveillance system for adverse events and side effects following immunization. Since December 2015, DOH has conducted orientations to parents, teachers, vaccinators, and medical professional groups on the dengue vaccine in the regions where it will be administered. Each region developed their own operational plans to ensure smooth immunization activities in their areas.

—From the Department of Health