By Merlina Hernando Malipot
Education Secretary Leonor Briones has directed a “strong” monitoring and surveillance of all learners who have been administered with Dengvaxia vaccine in an effort to allay the fears of students, parents, and guardians alike.
Briones, in DepEd Memorandum No. 199, series 2017 (DM 199) or the “Monitoring and Surveillance of Learners who have been administered with Dengvaxia Vaccine,” said that all learners who have been administered with the Dengvaxia vaccine will be subjected to strengthened “monitoring and surveillance” in coordination with Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – through the local government units (LGUs).
Amid the controversies hounding the government’s dengue immunization program, Briones said that DepEd, DOH and the DILG will “jointly implement a strong monitoring and surveillance system to ensure the condition of learners” in the National Capital Region (NCR), Regions 3 and 4A, and 7 who received the vaccine.
Briones said that while the mentioned regions shall be the focus of the strengthened surveillance system, “other regions will also be involved to ensure that learners in public and private schools given the dengue vaccine by private practitioners and the community based vaccination will be included in the surveillance.”
School administrators and school health personnel – particularly in the concerned regions – were “enjoined to review the masterlist of learners given the dengue vaccine (regardless of the number of doses), and flag these children for very close monitoring for any symptoms of fever and initiate the referral report when necessary.”
“Other regions who did not implement the school-based dengue vaccine program are likewise advised to conduct an assessment from among the nine-year-old and above learners of Grades 4-6, who might have been vaccinated by private practitioners and the community-based vaccination done in NCR communities and the Cebu Province of Region VII and flag these children for close monitoring also,” Briones said.
Briones said that DepEd and DOH, in coordination with the LGUs “will establish a coordinated surveillance and referral system (fastlane) for vaccinated children” wherein each school in Regions III, IV-A, NCR and Cebu Province of Region VII will be matched with Rural Health Unit (RHU). “Schools will refer vaccinated students with fever to the RHU and RHU personnel will assess the learners and manage accordingly,” she said.
The DOH, on the other hand, will set up a reporting text line, which parents and teachers can use to report vaccinated learners with fever. Text reports will be acted on by the health workers of the RHU. DOH, Briones said, is “considering extending financial support for RHU/hospital admissions of vaccinated children with fever for observation” – subject to DOH Administrative Order for the matter.
Briones also reminded all school administrators nationwide “to strictly adhere to the provisions” of DepEd Memorandum No. 152, s. 2011, titled “Preventing Dengue in Schools to Ensure that Schools Regularly Conduct Vector Control Measures to Eliminate Mosquitoes in the School Environment.”
“This is also to emphasize the urgency of the anti-dengue drive through the 4-S Strategy, which stands for Search and Destroy, Seek early consultation, Self-protective measures, and Say “no” to indiscriminate fogging,” Briones said.