THE Department of Health (DoH) is spending P213 million more next year to deploy an additional 425 nurses who will “keep an eye on school children who received shots of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.”
“The nurses will visit public schools to check on the health condition of vaccinees, while others will be assigned to hospitals to keep close tabs on admissions of vaccinees,” said Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, House appropriations committee member.
“The extra provision is already factored into the DoH’s proposed budget for 2019, and is on top of the P1.16 billion contained in the supplemental appropriations bill for this year that we already approved to support Dengvaxia vaccinees,” said Pimentel.
Pimentel is former chairman of the House good government and accountability committee which conducted a joint inquiry with the House health panel into the government’s controversial anti-dengue immunization program.
More than 870,000 school children received Dengvaxia shots under the public inoculation program that was launched in April 2016 but eventually abandoned in December 2017.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June confirmed previous findings that children who never had dengue infection but were given Dengvaxia shots anyway had an increased risk of hospitalization and a severe case of the debilitating mosquito-borne disease from the third year after vaccination.
Pimentel said President Duterte is expected to sign into law shortly the supplemental appropriations bill allotting P1.16 billion “to provide the necessary health and medical assistance to Dengvaxia vaccinees.”
The money will be sourced from exactly the same amount that Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur gave back to the DoH in January in exchange for the unused shots of the vaccine.
The House passed the Palace-certified supplemental appropriations bill on third and final reading on May 29. The Senate did the same on September 5.
Under the bill, the P1.16 billion would be spent as follows: P945,827,530 for Medical Assistance Program; P78,296,250 for the assessment and monitoring of Dengvaxia vaccinees; P70,000,000 for supplies and medicine; and P67,586,220 for health workers to be deployed to monitor vaccinees.