PAO says other vaccines OK amid spike in measles cases attributed to Dengvaxia scare

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 30) — With the three-fold increase in the cases of measles in the Philippines attributed to the panic caused by the Dengvaxia scandal, the agency at the forefront of the legal battle against the anti-dengue vaccine clarified that it is "not against other vaccines."

The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) called on the Department of Health to campaign for the safety of other vaccines instead of blaming the Dengvaxia victims and officials.

"Lalong magagalit mga tao kapag sila ang sinisisi sa kagagawan din ng mali sa [People would get more angry if they are blamed over the wrongdoings in the] experimental Dengvaxia. They (DOH) should campaign for the safety of other vaccines. And not campaign against Dengvaxia victims and the government agencies tasked to investigate the scandal," PAO Chief Persida Acosta told CNN Philippines on Friday.

Health authorities and doctors said fears of vaccination following the Dengvaxia vaccine scandal is one of the reasons for the spike in measles cases.

Acosta said it is "natural" for the public to panic following the scandal surrounding the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, which may cause "serious disease" among those who have not yet been infected with dengue, according to its manufacturer, Sanofi-Pasteur.

"The DOH (Department of Health) must not blame Dengvaxia. They must blame its spearheaders for conducting mass indiscriminate vaccination without blood test and screening," Acosta said.

The PAO is representing several parents whose kids have died allegedly due to the vaccine in civil and criminal cases lodged against Sanofi-Pasteur officials and government officials, including former President Benigno Aquino III, former Health Secretary Janette Garin and Health Secretary Francisco Duque.

The government law firm insisted that the anti-dengue vaccine, administered to over 800,000 schoolchildren before being suspended following Sanofi-Pasteur's disclosure, is the culprit behind hundreds of children's deaths, despite experts not having found a solid link between these and Dengvaxia.

READ: Pathologist refutes PAO's claims linking Dengvaxia to children's deaths

Still, the PAO filed corruption and murder charges against the pharmaceutical firms and public officials.

But Acosta said, "I don't campaign versus Dengvaxia," noting that it was Congress which first started the probes on the vaccine.

After a measles outbreak in Taguig City and Negros Oriental in March, the DOH confirmed reports of another outbreak of the disease in Sarangani.

The measles vaccine has been available in the Philippines since 1963.