Injecting PH Children's Lives at Risk

"Explore the complexities of vaccine safety in 'Injecting PH Children's Lives at Risk.' This blog delves into the Dengvaxia controversy in the Philippines, highlighting the clash between medical advancement and the emergent anti-vaccine movement. It focuses on the Philippine government's response to Sanofi Pasteur's findings about increased risks for certain individuals and the impact on over 800,000 students. The article underscores the importance of informed decision-making in public health, advocating for knowledge over misinformation and responsible healthcare practices. It calls for prioritizing solutions in the face of healthcare challenges, emphasizing the role of trust and understanding in navigating vaccine administration."

Engr. Ervin Goh

2/10/20183 min read

We are living in a world of modern modification where all biotic and abiotic factors in the environment can be easily alter, duplicate, or even shatter in just a snap of a finger. Like how vaccination has strongly integrated into modern medicine nowadays, and several generations have grown up without being exposed to epidemics of measles, whooping cough, viruses, etc. However, during the recent decade an anti-vaccine movement has emerged, powered by the complaints and claims of parents in Internet and videos related to supposed specific effects of vaccines. We are drowning in information, but we’re starving for knowledge that knowing that all vaccines are life-saver will also lead us to a life-threatening situation.

The Philippines has ordered an investigation into the immunization of more than 730,000 children with a dengue vaccine that has been suspended following an announcement by French drug company Sanofi that it could worsen the disease in some cases. New analysis of clinical data showed Sanofi Pasteur’s dengue vaccine poses more risks for people who have not been infected by the virus before immunization. Sanofi itself made the announcement in a statement released on November 29, after new analysis of 6 years’ worth of clinical data. Around 10 percent of over 800,000 students who were immunized with Dengvaxia, but did not have a prior dengue infection, now face contracting a “severe disease,” according to the vaccine’s manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur.

The analysis confirmed that Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had prior infection. For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however, the analysis found that in the longer term, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection. The pharmaceutical company will now propose to national regulatory agencies to update the vaccine’s label. Dengvaxia will no longer be recommended for people who have not been infected by dengue before.

“Vaccination should only be recommended when the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks (in countries with high burden of dengue disease). For individuals who have not been previously infected by dengue virus, vaccination should not be recommended,” said Sanofi. Their announcement is a big blow to countries that have been using Dengvaxia for national immunization programs and have allowed the vaccine’s commercial sale, including the Philippines.

The vaccine was not initially meant to be given to people who have never been infected with the virus (called “seronegatives”, or people who do not have dengue antibodies in their blood as a result of past infection). The entire vaccine is based on the understanding that subsequent infections after the first tend to be more severe, because of a phenomemon called antibody-dependent enhancement, where antibodies from the previous infection of one type of dengue virus cause the current virus to cause more symptoms instead of helping clear it. That is why it is only for use in high-prevalence countries.

Let’s look at the numbers, too. Based on studies in the Philippines, 90% in those ages 12 and above in the Philippines have the dengue antibodies in their blood—that means that Dengvaxia would work for 90% of the population. So if you have had at least one episode of dengue, you should absolutely not hesitate to get the vaccine. The vaccine decreases the risk of severe dengue in this group of people by about 90% for sure. That’s statistically significant.

Parents will never be liable for any dangers that will happen to their kids on this issue because let’s be practical and put ourselves to their shoes. Knowing that dengue is truly a life threatening virus for our kids, we will not hesitate when one day, government will knock on our door and ask if we want to vaccinate the children. If we are part of the “masang Pilipino” we trust our government branches like the Department of Health because they are expert on their profession , and also we know that all vaccines has an aim to teach the immune system to fight disease by mimicking a natural infection. Being a Fiilipino is being family-oriented and just wanting the safety of our loved ones. Bad science is the root of the problem regarding the dengue vaccine causing a health scare in the country.

The bottom line is that this is a GOOD vaccine when used CORRECTLY. Talk to your doctor if it is appropriate for you. Only you can make decisions about your health, but you need to make an informed decision.

A vaccine aimed at protecting hundreds of thousands of school children from dengue may have put their lives at risk. However, we must not only focus on spotting who is accountable for this issues that results to death of some students in the Philippines, WE MUST PRIORITIZE THE SOLUTION RATHER THAN THE CAUSE. We must always feed our mind with knowledge, not just information, because just like injecting a vaccine, we must be as censorious as we can so that all the right things will remain and only truth will flow in to our system.