Published: Sat, December 02, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Health Department halts dengue vaccination program

Health Department halts dengue vaccination program

It warned that the vaccine may cause "more severe dengue cases" on those who may contract the disease for the first time.

Sanofi said it was writing to national regulatory agencies proposing that vaccination should not be recommended for individuals who have not been previously infected by dengue virus.

While Sanofi's Dengvaxia is the first-ever approved vaccine for dengue, scientists already recognised it was not flawless and did not protect equally against the four different types of the virus in clinical tests.

Filipino Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said new recommendations would be released later this month by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation, an advisory body of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Pupils aged nine and above in three highly endemic areas of the country have been vaccinated in the world's first programme of its kind. That will include mandatory history-taking of those vaccinated, mandatory reporting of all vaccine recipients admitted to hospital regardless of symptoms, and five years of post-vaccination surveillance. An average of 200,000 cases of dengue is reported every year, according to the DOH. "These findings highlight the complex nature of dengue infection". It also said doctors should assess the likelihood of prior dengue infection in people before choosing whether they should get the vaccine. The mosquito-borne virus can be fatal in severe cases. The company said political and economic turmoil had an effect on the launch. Before, spontaneous nosebleeding classifies dengue as severe.

"But then reviewing the guidelines, the ones classified by Sanofi [as severe] right now...most of the cases would not even fall under our current definition of severe", Suy explained.

"For those who were infected prior to receiving the vaccine, there is a 93 percent reduction in the severity of the disease and 82 percent on hospitalizations", Philippine Children's Medical Center Chief Julius Lecciones noted.

Before the current analysis, a research team past year found that the vaccine-if given to dengue-naïve individuals-"acts very much like a natural infection but without making recipients sick". For individuals who have not been previously infected by dengue virus, vaccination should not be recommended.

Lecciones noted that Brazil, another country that had a mass dengue vaccination campaign, will continue its public immunization program.

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