Garin calls for dengue vaccination

A schoolgirl getting a dengue vaccine shot. (TT Publico)

Former Health Secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin on Thursday urged the Department of Health (DoH) to continue administering dengue vaccines amid the alarming rise of dengue infection in the country.

The health department recently declared a national dengue alert due to an 85 percent increase in dengue cases nationwide from 57,564 in 2018 to 106,630 in the first half of 2019.

Garin said it is now the time for the DoH to “listen to the experts” as she said the two decades of 4S strategy of the agency has not reduced dengue cases. The 4S strategy consists of searching and destroying mosquito breeding places, self-protection, seeking early consultation and supporting spraying only in hotspot areas.

Since last week, the DoH has been reminding the public to follow the 4S as dengue cases started rising.

Garin said the number of dengue cases could have been reduced by the vaccine similar to what has happened to Brazil as she urged the DoH to “follow international guidelines and make essential medicines, vaccines included to those who need it.”

The lawmaker also noted that even if the dengue immunization program was halted, the dengue vaccine should be continued until the third dose “to ensure benefit to the public.”

Garin did not refer to Dengvaxia whose distribution and sale in the country were stopped by its manufacturer Sanofi in 2017. The Food and Drug Administration also suspended the registration of the vaccine.

In 2017, the DoH halted the mass dengue immunization program of the government after the reported deaths of school children inoculated with Dengvaxia. Garin is among the officials facing charges due to the deaths.

The complainants accused Garin and other respondents, including former President Benigno Aquino III, of negligence for their failure to obtain parental consent and to inform the Dengvaxia recipients and their parents of the risks related to the vaccine.