DOH creates Task Force Dengvaxia

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday, December 8, announced that the Department of Health (DOH) has created a task force to closely monitor and attend to the health of Dengvaxia recipients.

“We, at the Department of Health, have created a task force for the management of concerns related to the school-based immunization initiative using the dengue vaccine,” Duque said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

The task force is composed of top management officials of the DOH Central Office, as well as concerned regional offices, and attached agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the National Children’s Hospital.

The task force will conduct a thorough review of the dengue vaccination program which started in March 2016. About 800,000 students received the vaccination.

The task force will also oversee an in-depth evaluation of the new evidence on safety provided by the vaccine manufacturer.

“This shall guide the Department of Health in responding to the safety concerns relevant to the use of this vaccine and how to proceed with the dengue program to ensure safeguards and prevent similar incidents in the future,” Duque said.

A legal team will assist the task force to look into the accountability of Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer which initially claimed the vaccine was safe and effective.

But later on, Sanofi Pasteur acknowledged that the vaccine is not recommended for people who have had no prior dengue infection as the vaccination will increase the risk of severe dengue.

“We will demand the refund of the three billion paid for the Dengvaxia, and that Sanofi set up an indemnification fund to cover the hospitalization and medical treatment for all children who might have severe dengue,” Duque declared.

In the same press briefing, the Health Secretary also announced that PhilHealth is ready to shoulder the expenses of any child who will be hospitalized for severe dengue.

“PhilHealth’s dengue case rate can cover up to 16,000 for severe dengue, which includes hospitals and physician fees as well as hospital — other hospital support interventions in the management of the dengue cases, “ Secretary Duque said.-PCO

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