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Help from DepEd on Dengvaxia panic, needed

ANTIPOLO CITY, Philippines – Young children gather to perform at their school assembly area during the traditional “field day demo” in Antipolo City, Dec 2017 file image. Help from the Dept. of Education (DepEd) is being sought by Senator Win Gatchalian to mandate all public schools to initiate a program to identify and monitor students who were immunized with Dengvaxia. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian is calling on the Department of Education (DepEd) to create a circular that will mandate all public schools to initiate a program to identify and monitor students who were immunized with Dengvaxia.

The government has already stopped the school and community-based anti-dengue immunization program jointly instituted by the Department of Health (DoH), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and DepEd after the manufacturer of the vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur, announced the possible negative effect on children who did not have dengue prior to vaccination. Those who were immunized were Filipino children between nine to eighteen years of age.

“Teachers and administrative leaders of all schools involved should join forces in creating a database of students who were immunized by Dengvaxia. Students who are showing symptoms of dengue should immediately be brought to the doctor to prevent future complications,” said Gatchalian, a member of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

The vaccine has caused a nationwide panic after the deaths of 14 children were alleged to be linked to Dengvaxia. However, there are still no conclusive findings that would directly link the vaccine to the deaths. This led Sanofi Pasteur to deny the request of DoH for a full refund for the used vaccines and support for an indemnification fund.

The senator stressed that despite the lack of conclusive findings, Sanofi Pasteur and DoH officials from the Aquino administration are not yet out of the woods.

“The investigation is still not over. Due to the complex medical science and emerging technologies involved in studying the long-term effects of the vaccine on program vaccine, it will take a while before the truth really comes out. We can’t blame parents for worrying about the health and safety of their children,” he said.

“In the meantime, if DepEd will mandate the monitoring of students who were immunized, it will surely help put parents at ease,” he added.