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DOH's Ubial questions timing of dengue vaccination program

Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial questioned the timing of the dengue vaccine program, which her predecessor, Dr. Janette Garin, started just before the 2016 presidential elections, GMA News TV program "State of the Nation with Jessica Soho" reported on Monday.

"Usually, we don't do new introductions together with a major national event," Ubial, who was speaking before the House of Representatives' Health Committee, explained.

Ubial also found it unusual that program initially targeted a million children for vaccination, when such programs started with a target of 20,000 to 30,000 children.

She also found the program to be expensive at P3.5 billion, though she did not find anything anomalous about it.

Garin, who also present at the hearing, countered that the program began when it did because it had to be started before the rainy season, when dengue cases usually spiked.

"[The delivery] of life saving vaccines should not be curtailed for the poor, because vaccination is actually a government's obligation and every citizen's right," Garin declared.

Critics had questioned the dengue vaccination program, which used the Sanofi manufactured drug Dengvaxia, arguing that the then DOH administration had rushed into it. They suggested that the drug be first tested before beginning the program.

The present DOH administration has suspended the program. — DVM, GMA News