Philippines to immunise a million children against dengue fever

Philippines to immunise a million children against dengue feverThe authorities in the Philippines have launched an ambitious programme aiming to immunise as many as one million schoolchildren against the dengue fever.

The government launched its first public immunization program for dengue fever using the first licensed vaccine against a mosquito-borne disease. The Department of Health (DOH) launched the programme on 4 April, 2016 to vaccinate one million nine-year-old, Grade 4 students in public elementary schools in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Southern Tagalog.

The authorities administered shots of Dengvaxia to hundreds of studentsgraders at a public school in metropolitan Manila. The immunisation programme was launched with songs and dances performed by the children at a gymnasium. The country was among the worst affected in the Western Pacific region from dengue from 2013 to 2015, according to the WHO. The country recorded a total of 200,415 cases in the previous year.

Health Secretary Janette Garin described the launch of the programme as "a historic milestone" in public health. The government has dedicated 3.5 billion pesos or $76 millionto administer the free vaccines. The government purchased the vaccine at a discounted price of 3,000 pesos or $65 for three doses for each child. Dengvaxia, developed by the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, was first licenced in Mexico in December 2015 followed by Brazil, the Philippines and El Salvador. The vaccine is still awaiting an approval from the WHO and European and other nations.

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