HEALTH officials in Central Visayas admitted that their annual vaccination program for infants and children was affected by the Dengvaxia fiasco.
In a weekly press conference organized by the Association of Government Information Officers 7 yesterday, Dr. Hayce Famor-Ramos, the Department of Health (DOH) 7’s national immunization program coordinator, said that since last October, they have received reports that some parents refused to have their children vaccinated due to the Dengvaxia scare.
The scare was triggered after several children who received the vaccine died, and the vaccine’s producer Sanofi Pasteur announced that Dengvaxia increased the risk of severe dengue if the person had not been infected with the virus prior to immunization.
“Before, some parents refused to have their children vaccinated due to religious or cultural reasons. Now, some are refusing as they associate vaccines with Dengvaxia,” Ramos said.
But Ramos said they can’t yet determine yet if the refusals will affect the number of fully immunized children in the region.
She said that their target is to vaccinate 210,907 children ages one and younger this year.
Ramos admitted that they failed to meet their target of 207,623 children last year, managing to fully immunize only 130,736 children.
They immunized 148,127 children in 2016.
Aside from the Dengvaxia scare, Ramos attributed the drop in numbers to the DOH shifting from its measles-only vaccines to MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccines. The distribution of the new vaccine took awhile and some of the children they were supposed to immunize as beyond one year old.
Based on the DOH’s Expanded Program for Immunization, a child one year and below must be given vaccinations against polio, neonatal tetanus, measles, diptheria, TB meningitis, pertussis and Hepatitis B.