The deaths of the two infants who were brought to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) three days after they were administered vaccines at the Barangay Pajac health center in Lapu-Lapu City last week, however tragic, should not cast doubts on the efficacy of the vaccines for its intended beneficiaries, which in this case are the children of Barangay Pajac.
At least two investigations — one by the Department of Health (DOH) and another by the Lapu-Lapu City government — are being conducted on the deaths of infants Ayesha Suson and Ghirvaughn Limpangog, and both are interdependent on each other.
As far as the facts go, the question lies not on the safety of the vaccine Pentavalent but on how it was administered by the health workers of Barangay Pajac to the two infants.
If the vaccine or how it was administered by the barangay health workers in Pajac caused the deaths of the two infants, then there could have been more babies who fell ill or, God forbid, died as a result.
Based on the DOH’s initial findings, however, the two infants had suffered previous illness long before they were administered with the vaccine by the Pajac barangay health workers.
But did DOH Regional Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas specify what illnesses these children suffered before they were admitted to the VSMMC? Mind you, he also said barangay health workers reminded the parents about possible side effects of the vaccine on those who are sick prior to undergoing vaccination.
Based on the DOH statements, Ayesha suffered from pneumonia, hypovolemic shock and severe dehydration upon her admission at the VSMMC and not before she was administered the vaccine.
The same thing goes for Ghirvaughn, who supposedly suffered from epilepticus secondary to bacterial meningitis upon being admitted at the VSMMC three days after being administered the vaccine.
In the absence of evidence of other infants suffering adverse effects from the vaccine, the parents of the two infants can only look to other agencies for assistance in verifying the actual cause of deaths of their children.
Regardless of whether the suspension in the administration of vaccines would severely reflect on public perception on the competence of Pajac’s barangay health workers, local and health officials should get to the bottom of the case.
Health authorities should consider adopting extra precautions like prescreening and assessment of the babies’ health status and fitness in receiving the vaccine in order to avoid a repeat of these twin tragedies.
After all, parents rely mainly on the expertise of health personnel and barangay health workers who are presumed to have received sufficient training for basic health services.
Health centers are the frontline responders in these outpatient medical services that are taken for granted but are no less valuable to the beneficiaries.
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