ILOILO City – Former Health secretary Janette Garin filed charges of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide against her successor Paulyn Ubial for the alleged deaths of children due to the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.
Garin filed the complaint before the Department of Justice (DoJ) on Sept. 17. She claimed Ubial’s decision to shift the dengue immunization program from being school-based to community- based contributed to the reported deaths of immunized children.
Garin further alleged that Ubial relaxed the protocol on securing prior consent by authorizing immunization on an “implied consent” basis.
“Secretary Ubial considered as implied consent the mere act of a parent bringing his or her child in the community center for immunization, even without a written consent from the parents,” said Garin.
She added that Ubial’s shift to community-based immunization ran counter to the globally-espoused recommendation for school-based immunization, thereby weakening the screening and monitoring mechanisms.
According to Garin, Ubial’s decision had no basis as the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended school-based immunization for recipients of school age, considering the advantages of better monitoring, better compliance, and better screening.
“Community-based immunization is prone to abuse by local politicians who use it as a political tool to facilitate access to free vaccines for their constituents who are unqualified,” said Garin.
Despite this, Garin said, Ubial allowed the community-based dengue immunization program to continue for more than a year, issued Philippine National Drug Formulary (PNDF) exemptions, expanded the program to Region 7, and issued orders to implement it to three more regions.
Ubial replaced Garin on July 2016.
Under Ubial’s term, the vaccination program was continued and even expanded – giving the second and third doses to the first 400,000 plus students who received the vaccine during the Aquino administration.
Garin added that 400,000 individuals more were immunized during the term of Ubial and that her successor did not comply with baseline and serial serotyping because of the absence of a commercially available testing kit.
To date, the Dengvaxia vaccine has not been scientifically, medically and conclusively linked to any of the alleged deaths in the Philippines. In over 21 other countries where Dengvaxia was used and still in use, no reports of deaths linked to the vaccine have been reported./PN