Over 200 Grade 4 students at Parang Elementary School in Marikina City availed themselves of the world’s first dengue vaccine under the Department of Health’s school-based immunization program on Monday. About a million children aged 9 and above belonging to the same grade level from public schools in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon, tagged as the regions with the “highest burden” of the mosquito-borne disease, are expected to receive free of charge three doses of the vaccine within a 20-month period.
The government has allotted a total of P3.5 billion for the immunization program which will include monitoring the beneficiaries in the next five years for possible side effects. Some doctors however have expressed their opposition to the DOH immunization program, raising doubts about the safety and efficacy of Dengvaxia. Nevertheless, DOH spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said that giving the first dose of the dengue vaccine to schoolchildren in the next three months would give them enough protection by the start of the rainy season when dengue cases usually peak in the country.