DOH to give ballers, health monitoring cards to kids who got Dengvaxia

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is giving out ballers and health monitoring cards to  more than 830,000 Filipino children who got the risky Dengvaxia dengue vaccine, its chief said on Thursday, December 14.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during the Senate hearing on the controversial dengue vaccination program that the DOH will conduct a 5-year “heightened surveillance” of all the kids who were vaccinated.

He showed senators a copy of the health monitoring card.

“We’re going to distribute this to each one of them so we can monitor each one of them together with their parents and their teachers to help us observe for any adverse events with regard to the conditions of the children post-Dengvaxia vaccination,” said Duque.

“So bibigyan din natin sila ng baller para makita natin, non-color coded (We will also give them ballers so we can monitor them, non-color coded),” he added.

The Senate is investigating the government’s administration of Sanofi Pasteur’s  Dengvaxia vaccine to public school students in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon through the national dengue vaccination program.

It was launched by then-DOH chief Janette Garin in April 2016, at the tailend of the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III. Aquino, who attended the Thursday hearing, told senators on Thursday that he was never informed about any opposition to the mass use of Dengvaxia.

Two years after the  implementation of the dengue vaccination program, Sanofi said its vaccine could lead to a more severe case of dengue when given to a person who had not been infected by the virus before immunization. 

Duque suspended the program on December 1, a day after Sanofi released its advisory. 

During the hearing, Duque said the DOH is mapping out all the schools where students, aged 9 and above, got vaccinated. 

“We’ll pair them with our rural health units that will be testing them with RTD (rapid diagnostic test). RTD is a testing kit to show the acuteness of the infection therefore catching the antigen to the dengue virus, which the body develops,” he said. 

He also instructed the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to shoulder P10,000 to P16,000 in hospital expenses should a child be hospitalized due to mild or severe dengue. 

“We’ve instructed PhilHealth to make sure that all the private and public hospitals who will receive patients or students showing mild to moderate or moderate to severe dengue to accept them. And if the student has no PhilHealth, then he will be enrolled under the point of care enrollment scheme,” he said. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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