Dengue fever vaccine scare after warnings

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The developer of the world's first vaccine for the potentially deadly virus, French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, revealed earlier this week that it could trigger more severe symptoms in people who had not been previously infected with dengue.

"We understand the concern of our people, especially the parents and the relatives of public elementary children residing in Regions 3, 4-A, and NCR, where the dengue vaccination initiative was launched by the previous administration", Roque said.

Hundreds of thousands of youngsters in the Philippines, from ages nine and up, received a dose a year ago and Department of Health (DOH) spokesman Eric Tayag said the country is preparing for the "worst-case scenario", Sky News said.

But Sanofi had said it could take around five years for such severe dengue cases to become evident, Mr Tayag added.

"We will leave no stone unturned in making those responsible for this shameless public health scam which puts hundreds of thousands of young lives at risk accountable", Roque said in a statement.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the world's first dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, is not distributed or used by any health facility either in the public or private sector in this country.

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The Philippines is prepared for a "worst-case scenario" following warnings that an anti-dengue vaccine administered to thousands of children may worsen the disease in some cases, a health official said Saturday.

The secretary said there haven't been any reports of severe dengue infection among those vaccinated, and he noted that the government would profile all those who received the vaccination and heighten its surveillance mechanisms.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said further information would be released on December 12 or 13 by the WHO advisory body, Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization.

"Of course, rest assured, monitoring is continuing, we are working with the Department of Health (DOH), in collaboration, to make sure this is maintained".

The public is urged to ensure that products used are registered and have a hologram sticker and labelled with a valid registration number.

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