MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) clarified on Monday that the reported death of an 11-year-old boy in Bataan last April 11 “was not related to the administration of the free anti-dengue vaccine but because of underlying illness.”
In a press briefing held at the DOH Media Relations Unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila, DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin said that based on the findings and as verified from the guardian of the boy, he was suffering and diagnosed with a congenital heart disease since childhood.
The boy, a grade 4 pupil in a public elementary school in Bagac, Bataan, died last April 11 due to cardiac arrest worsened by complications such as pulmonary edema, acute gastroenteritis and moderate dehydration.
The child received the Dengvaxia vaccine last March 31.
“The 11-year-old child died because of congestive heart failure. Ito po ay bata na may sakit sa puso. Unfortunately, nagkaroon siya ng amoebiasis and this led to other complications dahil wala siyang maintenance na iniinom na gamot,” said Secretary Garin.
The DOH made the clarification to allay fears of some people or groups that may spread wrong information that the Dengvaxia vaccine can cause death.
Based on clinical records, the child was referred to a medical specialist last September 2015, but due to some intervening circumstances, the guardian of the child was not able to pursue the necessary treatment.
During the immunization day last March 31, the patient was screened by the rural health physician inside the school and the guardian, who gave the consent for the conduct of the vaccination, had assured that the child had no fever or illness and was not taking maintenance medications.
Based on the temperature taken, the child also did not manifest any fever during that time.
The rural health physician and those who conducted the immunization had also checked if the boy and other children who were vaccinated on the same date had taken the meals prior to vaccination.
On April 3, the patient was brought to Bagac Community Medicare Hospital due to diarrhea, fever and dizziness.
“The impression during that time was gastroenteritis with no dehydration and he was considered as outpatient then. The next day, it was seen in the laboratory that the stool sample of the patient turned positive with amoebiasis,” Garin said.
The patient then was allowed to be sent home because amoebiasis could be manageable at home.
However, on April 9, the patient was brought back to the hospital after suffering from face puffiness and “facial and pedal edema.”
The patient was admitted at the Isaac Catalina Medical Center after suffering from difficulty of breathing and the diagnosis was severe pneumonia, congestive heart failure and electrolyte imbalance.
On April 10, the patient was transferred to the Bataan General Hospital, but died the next day due to cardiac arrest, pulmonary edema and other underlying causes such as congenital heart disease, gastroenteritis, with moderate dehydration.
Health authorities say pulmonary edema happens if there are excess fluids that cannot be pumped out and stagnated in different organs or parts of the body of the patient.
Since the lungs are connected with the heart, there is greater pressure on the part of the heart to pump more heavily and this can lead to cardiac arrest.
The case of the patient was presented to the National Adverse Event Following Immunization Committee (NAEFIC) last April 21 to asses the hospital findings.
Secretary Garin said the assessments of the NAEFIC were consistent with the findings of the hospital.
They further said that the death of the boy was coincidental.
Meanwhile, according to Secretary Garin, the presence of ulcer condition of the patient also aggravated his situation or condition as indicated by low blood count.
She clarified that congenital heart disease is not contra-indicated with vaccination.
“In fact, we can see other patients, pag nagkakasakit sila sa panahon na di sila symptomatic, lalo na yung mga baby, binibigyan sila ng bakuna because the need to protect them is more — kasi mas prone silang mahawa ng sakit dahil mas iba ang resistensya nila as compared sa normal na mga bata,” she explained.
The DOH further said that what is important is that the children who will be vaccinated as well as their guardians will really be honest in filling up the form and in answering the health-related questions prior to vaccination.
Health officials said they are recording any events related with the patients vaccinated with Dengvaxia as part of the transparency commitment of the Sanofi Pasteur, manufacturer of the vaccine, wherein details like any side effects that are felt and even other adverse events not related to the vaccine are being put on record and made open to the public.
So far, there has been no death recorded due to the dengue vaccine as of this date, the DOH said. Leilani Junio/PNA/northboundasia.com