by: Era Mae Encina and Marielle Louise Ventura
Spearheaded by the Municipal Health Office under the Department of Health (DOH), parents of Grade 6 students vaccinated with Dengvaxia from Lopez Elementary School gathered for an open forum held yesterday, March 01, 2018 at the Lopez Elementary School Auditorium as part of the government’s nationwide anti-dengue campaign.
The main goal of the forum was to guide the parents about the precautionary steps against dengue that they can do to ensure the safety of their children. Municipal Health Officer Dr. Alvin Isidoro and DOH Representative Eric Ocampo were present in the said forum to clarify misconceptions and answer questions of concerned parents regarding the vaccine, especially the claims and reports about it being unsafe.
“Magkakaroon ba ng sakit kapag nabakunahan ng Dengvaxia? Sa ngayon ay wala pa tayong katunayan o pruweba na iyon ay totoo. Kaya ang nangyayari ay kinakabahan tayo o natatakot tayo dito dahil lamang sa napapanood natin, ngunit ito ay saklaw ng imbestigasyon na on-going pa ng mga eksperto. Sila [lang] yung makakapagsabi ng epekto ng Dengvaxia. Ang totoo, hindi tayo magkakaroon ng dengue hangga’t hindi tayo nakakagat ng lamok na may dala ng dengue virus. Yun lang ang paraan na magkakadengue ang mga bata,” said Mr. Ocampo.
(“Can Dengvaxia cause another illness? So far we don’t have enough evidence or proof that it is true. We only get nervous or threatened about the vaccination because of what we see on TV, but there are still on-going investigations regarding the matter. Only the experts can confirm if Dengvaxia has negative effects. The truth is, we can only acquire dengue from dengue-carrying mosquitoes. That is the only way children acquire the disease.”)
In Los Banos, approximately 740 out of 847 students were able to complete the three vaccines required in the program. According to Dr. Isidoro, 70 vaccinated students complained about headaches and stomach pain. 90% of the said group had already undergone the Rapid Dengue Test (RDT), and all of them acquired negative results. The remaining ten percent (10%) did not undergo the test for their symptoms were related to entirely different diseases.
The Department of Health is continuously monitoring the condition of the students in public elementary schools who were part of the immunization program. They have also set three important actions to assist dengue prevention, specifically Information Dissemination, Monitoring and Surveillance, and Financial or Hospitalization Assistance.
The speakers also reminded the parents that in case their children show symptoms, they can always go to the nearest barangay health center and have their children checked. They emphasized that the check-ups and hospitalization in their health centers, as well as in some hospitals, are free of charge.
The Dengvaxia vaccine is expected to give up to six years of protection from dengue. It was first released nationwide on February 11, 2016, and was suspended in the country by the orders of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. As of now, Dengvaxia vaccine is still under investigation.