WHO denies recommending Dengvaxia for nat'l immunization programs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said it never recommended to countries the use Dengvaxia in their national immunization programs.

"The WHO position paper did not include a recommendation to countries to introduce the dengue vaccine into their national immunization programs," WHO said in a statement.

WHO also said their position paper, released on July 2016, was based on the recommendation of its Strategic Group of Experts on Immunisation.

Pharmaceutical company and Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur earlier said new studies revealed the vaccine may cause "severe disease" for people who have not yet had dengue before the immunization.

READ: Drug firm warns of 'severe disease' from dengue vaccine for people with no prior infection

WHO then outlined its guidelines for countries considering to use Dengvaxia.

"First, use of the vaccine should only be considered in areas where a high proportion of the community had already been exposed to the virus; second, the vaccine should only be provided to people 9 years of age and above; and third, people being vaccinated should receive 3 doses," it said.

The Philippine government spent P3.5 billion for the purchase of Dengvaxia in 2015 to implement a dengue vaccine program in April 2016.

"The decision to roll out the vaccine had been taken by the DOH (Department of Health) before WHO's advice became available," WHO said.

The program was recently suspended following Sanofi's announcement, a move supported by the WHO.

The Food and Drug Administration also suspended the sale and distribution of the dengue vaccine.

READ: FDA suspends sale, distribution of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said 733,713 children from Central Luzon, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), and Metro Manila had been administered Dengvaxia.

Of these, the DOH said eight to ten percent or about 70,000 children have had no previous dengue infection.