MANILA -- The Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill providing a PHP1.161-billion supplemental budget to fund the medical needs of children who were given the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine.

The bill, which was certified by President Rodrigo Duterte as urgent, was passed with a vote of 18-0.

The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill last May.

The supplemental budget would be sourced from the partial refund from French drug manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, through its local distributor Zuellig Pharma, covering the unused vials of Dengvaxia vaccines.

The Department of Health has proposed that 81 percent or PHP945.8 million of the fund would be allocated to a medical assistance program for the recipients of the vaccine seeking treatment, either confined in hospitals or outpatients.

Around PHP148.3 million would be spent on public health management, with PHP78 million earmarked for assessment and monitoring of vaccine recipients, and PHP70 million for supplies and medicines.

Around PHP67.6 million will be used on the deployment of health workers who will follow-up on complaints of Dengvaxia recipients.

The government suspended the dengue immunization program after Sanofi Pasteur admitted in November last year that the vaccine could pose serious risks to individuals who have never been infected with the dengue virus before.

Before the program was suspended, at least 800,000 children were said to have been inoculated with the Dengvaxia vaccine since it was initiated in 2016 as a school-based program. (PNA)