MANILA, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines has decided on Friday to suspend its dengue immunization program for public school students for potential risks.
It is revealed that the Dengvaxia vaccine may cause a severe case of dengue infection if applied to a person who had not been previously infected with the mosquito-borne disease.
"The DOH will place the dengue vaccination program on hold while reviewing consultations are ongoing with experts, key stakeholders and the World Health Organization (WHO)," acting Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference.
The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of the vaccine, has issued an advisory warning of the risk posed by the vaccine to those without prior infection.
The warning raised concerns to parents of students who have received the vaccination.
But Duque said the public should not panic because the DOH will monitor the children's condition.
"Currently, there is no reported case of severe dengue infection among those who received the vaccine," he said.
He added, "not everybody will get infected with severe dengue. But we shall wait for the final update from Sanofi and WHO."
The Philippines is the first country in Asia to approve the vaccine for individuals aged nine and 45 years old in December 2015. The government paid 3 billion pesos (60 million U.S. dollars) for those vaccines.
In 2016, the DOH launched the dengue vaccination initiative in three highly endemic regions, including the Philippine capital of Manila. The WHO recommended the immunization program as part of its mass vaccination in highly endemic countries.
Over 700,000 children have already been vaccinated of the vaccine manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur as of November this year.
Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever are acute viral infections that affect infants, young children and adults. It is transmitted by bites of dengue-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos.