Philippines pupils get fever vaccine
The Philippines has launched the first public immunisation programme for dengue fever, seeking to administer to a million schoolchildren the world’s first licensed vaccine against a mosquitoborne disease that the World Health Organisation estimates infects 390 million people a year globally.
Hundreds of pupils at a public school in metropolitan Manila’s Marikina city were given the first of three shots of Dengvaxia.
Some of the pupils received their vaccination shot under the glare of cameras during a festive ceremony at a gymnasium festooned with multicoloured bunting and preceded by songs and performed by the children.
The Philippines had the highest dengue
dances incidence in the WHO’s Western Pacific region from 2013 to 2015, recording 200,415 cases last year, according to the Department of Health.
Health Secretary Janette Garin called the programme’s launch “a historic milestone” in public health.
“We are the first country to introduce, adopt and implement the first-ever dengue vaccine through the public health system and under a public school setting,” she said.
The government is spending 3.5 billion pesos ($76 million) to administer the free vaccines, which it bought at a discounted cost of 3,000 pesos ($65) for three doses for each child. Free vaccine programmes ensure that “health should be for all, rich or poor,” Garin said.
The health department says a study showed that the vaccination of nineyear-old children for five years starting in 2016 can reduce dengue cases by 24.2 per cent in the Philippines. The vaccine is given as a three-dose series, with the doses coming six months apart.
Guillaume Leroy, Sanofi Pasteur’s vice president for dengue vaccine, said that while there are differences in the level of effectiveness against the different dengue strains, the vaccine “has shown efficacy against all the four serotypes, all the serotypes circulating in the world.”