Health expert calls for reconsideration of Dengvaxia use amid rising dengue cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — An infectious diseases expert believes now is the time to re-evaluate the use of the Dengvaxia vaccine as dengue cases continue to climb in the country.

In a public briefing Monday, Dr. Rontgene Solante said Dengvaxia — the world's first dengue vaccine — has already been in use in some Asian countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, except the Philippines, where the number of dengue cases is at an all-time high year in and year out.

RELATED: DOH: Dengue cases up 90% in Jan-June 2022 

"That's why I think it's high time that the government should consider having Dengvaxia. They should review the data, they should review the benefit of this vaccine," he said.

Solante added that Dengvaxia has also been proven to prevent severe cases of dengue and hospitalization due to dengue.

In 2016, the Philippines began its Dengvaxia vaccination program where over 800,000 young students were immunized. However, Filipinos were hounded with fear after some of the children fell ill or died

Some experts claimed dengue vaccine failure may have caused the death of two children but the Department of Health disputed this and said there is no solid proof to link Dengvaxia to the fatalities.

RELATED: TIMELINE: The Dengvaxia controversy 

This controversy led to low vaccine confidence in the country, which also initially affected the COVID-19 immunization program.

Easing Dengvaxia worries

The sale and distribution of Dengvaxia remain suspended in the country, but if the government decides to reconsider re-assessing the use of the vaccine to minimize dengue cases in the country, Solante has some suggestions on reducing Dengvaxia hesitation among Filipinos.

The health expert emphasized the importance of formulating specific guidelines on when to use and whom to use the vaccine.

"Kung pwede na nating gamitin, then there should be guidelines on kailan natin siya gagamitin at kung sinong population pwede nating (paggamitan)," he said.

Solante clarified that the vaccine has been known to cause severe dengue among those who have not been previously infected and is only recommended as immunization to those who have already been infected with dengue.

Further, Solante reminded the public to continue practicing environmental hygiene as a spike in dengue cases is seen due to the rainy weather and population density.