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Dengue vaccine program to temporarily end after 3rd round of pilot

The Department of Health (DOH) will halt the dengue vaccination program after completing the third and final round of injections for Grade Four students from April to July.

Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said at the launch of the Philippine Global Adult Tobacco Survey on Friday that they would await the results of the pilot before making plans for a second iteration.

"Right now, it is still under surveillance and we will convene a technical working group to discuss how we will move forward with this particular vaccination program," Ubial explained.

All data from the vaccination program will be collated after the administration of the third dose and will be evaluated after a six-month observation period by a national technical advisory group (NTAG).

Formed in August 2016, NTAG's panel of independent experts from the academe and the scientific community will evaluate the adverse effects of the vaccine and community data to plot the next step for the program.

"Antayin natin yung results ng adverse events and also the results of siguro, implementation kasi affected rin dun yung mga beliefs, perspectives ng mga parents, kung ayaw nila magpabakuna and all that," Ubial said.

"We know that the medical community is divided on this issue. Hindi pa rin, parang, accepted in all the medical fields," she added.

The health department will also wait for additional funds for the controversial program implemented by her predecessor, Dr. Janette Garin, for P3.5 billion.

"Wala pa tayong naka-plano at tsaka wala pang budget for continuing the program so we're awaiting the recommendation of the NTAG," Ubial said. "Wala pang identification of how we move forward, who will be the next targets for vaccination. Wala pa sa GAA."

Ubial questioned the timing of the dengue vaccination program at a House health committee hearing last December when legislators probed the DOH's procurement of Dengvaxia. The Senate similarly conducted its own investigation into the purchase.

Around 489,003 Grade 4 students in public schools from the National Capital Region (NCR), Calabarzon, and Central Luzon were estimated to have received their second shots in October.

Students will be fully inoculated after receiving their third shot, to be administered from April to July this year, as each dose requires a six-month interval between each shot.

The Philippines was the first Asian country to clear the dengue vaccine and approved its distribution within a month of clearing its use. — MDM, GMA News