The Department of Health (DOH) has clarified that it is not the Dengue vaccine that killed an 11-year-old boy in Bagac, Bataan. It was congenital heart disease that caused the death.
DoH stated this on the latest coverage of Dengue School-Based Immunization which started April 4, 2016.
As of April 24, a total of 204, 397 (73%) pupils were vaccinated out of 279,393 pupils with parents’ consent.
As of April 24, 2016 a total of 362 cases of Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) from the three regions where the Dengue School Based Immunization Program were received.
The top five common reactions were fever, headache, dizziness, vomiting, and rash. The DOH established a strict monitoring and surveillance system for adverse events and side effects following immunization.
In a related development, Health Secretary Jannette Garin said they are addressing the death of the 11-year-old boy identified as John Paul Rafael.
Garin insisted that the vaccine had no contraindication or negative effect on the patient who had Congenital heart disease.” She narrated during a press conference at DOH Central Office in Manila that the patient was vaccinated on March 31, 2016.
She said the patient is claimed to have been diagnosed with congenital heart disease during his childhood.
“No maintenance medication was taken since his transfer to his current guardians. During immunization of dengue vaccine, the patient was screened and assessed by the RHU physician at the school. When asked the guardian (uncle) denied history of fever, illness, and maintenance medication during assessment,” Garin said.
On April 3, 2016 patient developed diarrhea and fever, he was seen and examined the next day at the Bagac Community Medicare Hospital and was diagnosed to have amoebiasis. Patient was sent home with medications.
On April 9, the patient was seen and admitted at the Isaac Catalina Medical Center after experiencing difficulty of breathing, fever, and cough.
He was initially diagnosed with pneumonia, severe; congenital heart disease in Congestive Heart Failure, and electrolyte imbalance.
April 10, the patient was referred and transferred to Bataan General Hospital. April 11, patient had a cardiac arrest and was eventually pronounced dead. The immediate cause of death was pulmonary edema with the following underlying causes: congenital heart disease, Acute Gastroenteritis with moderate dehydration.
Garin said the case was presented to the National Adverse Event Following Immunization Committee (NAEFIC) last April 21, 2016 to assess the findings. Their conclusion is consistent with the hospital findings.
The dengue vaccination is coincidental. According to NAEFIC, congenital heart disease is not an exclusion criterion for vaccination.
Dengue is highly endemic in the Philippines. It had the highest incidence and ranks number 1 in the Western Pacific Region from 2013 to 2015. As of April 9, 2016, a total of 33, 658 suspected dengue cases were reported nationwide.
Most of the cases were from Region IV-A with 5,546 cases out of 33,658; Region III with 4, 518 cases; Region X with 3, 604 cases and National Capital Region (NCR) with 2,469 cases.
Meanwhile, the health chief reiterated that while the vaccine is proven 90% effective in preventing the incidence of severe dengue, cleanliness is still the most fundamental solution against mosquito-borne diseases like dengue.
Especially today that the country is stricken by the El Niño phenomenon, the public is reminded to always cover containers which are being used for storing water so it will not be infested by mosquito larvae.
“Dengue vaccines are only a step of our battle against dengue. We will continue to fight against mosquito-borne diseases through the ‘4S campaign’.
The 4S means Search & destroy mosquito breeding places, use Self-protection measures, Seek early consultation for fever lasting more than 2 days, and Say NO to indiscriminate fogging. Lahat ng ito ay mangyayari kung sisimulan natin sa ating mga bahay. Sama-sama nating gampanan ang ating papel upang makamit ang Kalusugang Pangkalahatan.” Garin concluded.
In an interview with DZRH, Tintin Ramirez, Rafael’s aunt, said the boy had a fever when she brought him to the school for vaccination.
Ramirez claims that she told the health worker about John Paul’s fever and medical condition. The health worker gave Tempra (paracetamol) to the boy and then after some time, proceeded to administer the Dengue vaccine.
A day after, Ramirez relates that John Paul’s condition worsened as he developed swelling of the legs which spread to the whole body. He was admitted later to a hospital, where he died on April 10.
The death certificate mentions the cause of death as pneumonia and congenital heart disease. No autopsy was done.
According to Ramirez, “John Paul’s condition worsened a day after the dengue vaccine was given. The vaccine may have been too strong for his condition. We want to find out the truth and what really happened to John Paul.” (Danny Comilang, Dr. Willie Ong, Joel C. Atencio)