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1.07 million students to get dengue vaccine – DOH

MANILA, Philippines – More than 1 million Filipino children in 3 regions with high incidence of dengue will be among the first recipients of anti-dengue vaccine in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Health Secretary Janette Garin said President Benigno Aquino III has approved the provision of dengue vaccine to 1,077,623 9-year-old Filipino children who are currently enrolled in government schools in the National Capital Region, Region III (Central Luzon), and Region IV-A (Calabarzon).

More than 92,000 dengue cases have been recorded in the country as of September 2015, with most of the cases – almost 50% – from these 3 regions.

Garin said the Philippines, which has been spending P16 billion every year to fight dengue, got a discount from the manufacturer of Dengvaxia, the world's first-ever dengue vaccine.

The funds for the purchase of the vaccine will be sourced from sin tax revenues.

In December 2015, the Philippines became the first Asian country to approve the sale of Dengvaxia, manufactured by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi. 

The Philippines is part of a 20-year trial for the vaccine. Three phases of the clinical trial were conducted in the country.

“The fact that the 3 phases of the clinical trial has been concluded in the Philippines is a reflection of the efficiency and capability of Filipino researchers. This shows that the world recognizes Philippine expertise in the area of research,” Garin said.

Citing an unpublished study done by Professor Hilton Lam of the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health, the DOH said a nationwide annual vaccination of 9-year-olds starting this year will lead to an estimated 24.2% drop in dengue cases over 5 years.

This translates to 775,053 dengue cases avoided, as well as 502,000 hospitalizations, 22,010 deaths, and almost P21 billion cost to society.

In 2013, the DOH reported 204,906 dengue cases – the highest number recorded since the establishment of the National Dengue Prevention and Control Program in 1993.

While the number decreased slightly in 2014, the DOH said data from 2015 suggested an increasing trend in the coming years.

Dengue is a disease common in tropical and sub-tropical countries in the world, and is transmitted through the bite of the Aedes mosquito. (READ: What are the common rainy season diseases?)

The Philippines is one of 4 countries in the Western Pacific which reported the highest dengue incidence in recent years. – with reports from Jee Geronimo/Rappler.com