Philippines gripped by dengue vaccine fears

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Fears over a dengue vaccine in the Philippines have led to a big drop in immunisation rates for preventable diseases, officials have warned.

Health Under-Secretary Enrique Domingo said many parents were refusing to get their children vaccinated for polio, chicken pox and tetanus.

The fears centre on Dengvaxia, a drug developed by French company Sanofi.

Sanofi and local experts say there is no evidence linking the deaths of 14 children to the drug.

However, the company had warned last year that the vaccine could make the disease worse in some people not infected before.

Dengue fever affects more than 400 million people each year around the world. Dengvaxia is the world's first vaccine against dengue.

The mosquito-borne disease is a leading cause of serious illness and death among children in some Asian and Latin American countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

What did Mr Domingo say about immunisation rates?

"Our programmes are suffering... (people) are scared of all vaccines now", he warned.

Mr Domingo added that vaccination rates for some preventable diseases had dropped as much as 60% in recent years - significantly lower that the nationwide target of 85%.

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