MANILA— Former health secretary Esperanza Cabral suggested that children who received partial doses of the controversial dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, be given the full dosage to get protection but the Department of Health (DOH) said it was sticking to its decision to halt the dengue vaccination program.
“Wala akong sinasabi na ibenta sa komersyo ulit iyong bakuna, kundi iyong mga bata na nabakunahan ng Department of Health na hindi pa nakakakumpleto, siguro maigi na kumpletuhin iyong kanilang schedule (I am not saying that the vaccine be sold again commercially but it would be better if the children who have not completed the three doses of Dengvaxia be given the full dosage),” Cabral said during a health forum at the Manila Hotel.
She claimed that giving the children the full dosage would provide them higher protection rates.
“Kung nakatanggap ka ng isa doon sa tatlong doses ng bakuna, may kaunting proteksyon ka. Pangalawa, may kaunti ulit. Pangatlo, yun ang pinaka-effective. So, kung talagang gusto mong makuha yung full benefit sa bakuna, kailangan makumpleto yung tatlo (If you received one of the three doses, you get a little protection. If you got the second dose, you will get added protection. If you want to get full protection, you have to complete the three doses),” Cabral explained.
DOH Undersecretary Enrique Domingo, however, said they would stand by their decision to stop the dengue immunization program.
“We do not know who among the children had previous dengue infection and we want to be cautious, (be) on the safe side,” Domingo said in a text message.
Meanwhile, Dr. Francisco Tranquilino, one of the doctors present at the forum, appealed to fellow physicians to exercise due care in discussing or sharing their opinions regarding the issue.
“Sapagkat bawat salita ay malaki ang impact sa mga mamamayan, lalo na dun sa magulang ng mga batang nabakunahan (This is because every statement made has an impact on the public, especially on the parents of children who have received the vaccine),” Tranquilino explained.
“Dapat nating alalahanin na ang isang sandigan ng matagumpay na immunization program ay pagtitiwala sa apat na bagay: una, sa mismong bakuna, pangalawa sa gumawa ng bakuna, pangatlo sa mga doctor na tulad namin, at pang-apat sa gobyerno (We should remember that a successful immunization program is built on trust on first, the vaccine; second, the producer of the vaccine; third, doctors like us; and fourth the government),” he said.
He lamented that even if the issue on Dengvaxia subsides one day, the collateral damage was “vaccine hesitancy”, where it would be difficult to convince people to believe in the efficacy of highly proven vaccines.
“Lalo na ngayon na nag-create tayo ng takot at pangamba dahil sa Dengvaxia