Duque insists no hand in Dengvaxia mess

By Leilani Junio

April 20, 2018, 6:53 pm

MANILA – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday reiterated that he has nothing to do with the implementation of the immunization program involving Dengvaxia dengue vaccine in 2017.

"I have proof to show that I have nothing to do with the implementation and I have nothing to do with continuation. Completely zero," Duque told a press briefing in Manila.

Duque called for the press conference after the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) included him in the criminal charges filed on Thursday before the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the death of Abbie Hedia, 13, from Muntinlupa City.

Hedia was given Dengvaxia shots in November 2017, under Duque's term as health chief, PAO head Persida Rueda-Acosta said.

Duque said he was only appointed to the Department of Health (DOH) in November 2017, adding that he had no idea then that there was an issue on the dengue immunization program.

"Remember that I only found out the risk associated with this vaccine on November 29, which actually triggered my suspension of Dengvaxia immunization," he added.

Duque said that he is wondering whey PAO did not include former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial who continued the program.

"She (Ubial) never stopped it. She just continued it," Duque said.

He, however, pointed out that Ubial "is equally liable because she continued it (dengue vaccination program) despite knowing the red flags."

Meanwhile, Duque said he will answer all the charges and will convene DOH Executive Committee (Execom) members on the next steps that they will take.

The Dengvaxia vaccine, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, was administered to over 800,000 recipients in schools and in communities in selected regions in the country which have high incidence of dengue cases.

In November 2017, Sanofi Pasteur admitted that the vaccine may cause severe dengue if administered to patients who never had dengue before. (PNA)