CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Department of Health (DOH) cautioned the public on the use of the vaccine against Japanese Encephalitis (JE) following the reported rise on its demand.
According to World Health Organization, Japanese encephalitis is a virus related to dengue and is spread by mosquitoes. Its symptoms include headache, high fever and seizures.
DOH Assistant Secretary Dr. Eric Tayag discouraged the public from taking JE vaccine shots during the rainy season, which is considered the disease’s peak season, citing the low probability of the vaccine taking effect when it is administered during the period.
"Hindi ho namin nirerekomenda sapagkat sa panahon na kung saan tumataas po yung kaso, sayang lang po ang pagpapabakuna. Ginagawa po ang pagpapabakuna bago pa po ang tag-ulan (The vaccine should be administered before the rainy season)," Tayag said.
Tayag also cautioned medical practitioners who offer the JE vaccine, especially those who are taking advantage of the situation, to be mindful in administering the vaccine.
"There is no known benefit of the vaccine when given during the peak season. Thus, the DOH cautions private practitioners not to offer JE vaccines during this period,” he said.
Imojev, the only available brand of JE vaccine in the country, ranges from P2,500 to P4,000 per shot depending on the hospital where it is availed of.
The said vaccine is now running out of stock in the market due to the sudden rise in demand following the series of reported death cases and rise in the number of patients in the past months.
For DOH’s part, Tayag said the vaccine for JE will be included in the national immunization program in 2018 as soon as data confirms its efficacy. It will be introduced to young children during the off-peak season.
Instead of the vaccine, Tayag said that the public must focus on maintaining cleanliness of their surroundings, including getting rid of standing water, to avoid becoming breeding places for mosquitoes.
Wearing of long-sleeved tops, pants, or socks to avoid mosquito bites and use of mosquito nets and applying insect repellents approved by the Food and Drug Administration are also advised, he said.
“When we get sick or our children develop fever for two days or flu-like symptoms, seek immediate consultation at the nearest health facilities. Let us avoid unnecessary and indiscriminate fogging activities,” Tayag said.