An outbreak of Dengue Fever in the Philippines has been recently declared a national epidemic after causing over 600 deaths since January of this year. Since January there have been over 145,000 cases of Dengue, presumably because of the Phillipine government ban on the Dengue vaccine earlier this year. Dengue, a debilitating viral disease most commonly found in tropical areas, is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes sudden fever and acute pains in the joints. It disproportionately affects young children and there is not yet a treatment for the disease.
One may ask, “Why then does the government not simply unban the vaccine?” The ban on the sale and distribution of the Dengvaxia vaccine, a dengue vaccine made by the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, recently was part of a scandal where children who were given the vaccine as part of a nationwide immunization program died. According to the Food and Drug Administration, Dengvaxia should only be given to people who have previously had a dengue infection, and live in areas where dengue is endemic. With the Filipino population’s distrust against the vaccine mounting, immunization rates have plummeted and rates of Measles and Dengue infection have skyrocketed. The Department of Health of the Philippines has declared that it is committed to fighting the recent outbreak and has begun issuing public health guidelines for the population in order to prevent further infection.