Japanese encephalitis vaccines are out of stock

SAN PEDRO CITY — Single parent Pamela Flores, 25, has found out about Japanese encephalitis (JE). But when told about the cost of the immunization, Flores, aN average-wage earner from this city, said she couldn’t manage the cost of it for her 3-year-old child.

“That’s expensive. We just get Pio’s (her son) vaccines from the (government health) center. I’ll probably just pray for him,” Flores said.

In the same situation, Cristina Hubid said she would have needed to get the antibody for her 4-year-old child. But the cost of the vaccine, ranging from P2,800 to P4,000 per shot depending upon the hospital where it was availed of, costs more than her month’s salary as a house helper.

JE is a vector-borne disease transmitted by the culex mosquito. It generally causes stomach pains, fever and seizures.

As indicated by the World Health Organization, the “case-fatality” rate among those with JE “can be as high” as 30 percent, which means three out of 10 stricken by JE could die.

The vaccines were not only costly, but in Laguna, they were hard to find.

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The Inquirer asked a number from private hospitals in the region and was informed that they had run out of stock of the vaccine.

Majority of JE cases involved children. There is also no cure for the illness.

“There is a demand probably because of the scare. I’m receiving a lot of calls asking me to reserve them a vaccine,” said Laguna provincial health officer Dr. Rene Bagamasbad on the shortage of the vaccines.

In Laguna, the health office recorded two affirmed cases—a 9-year-old child who died in Calauan town, and a 6-year-old from San Pablo City. The child from San Pablo survived.

There are a few associated cases with JE but Bagamasbad said tests done at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City usually takes two weeks.

In the Philippines, the main accessible brand of the vaccine at present is the Imojev, which is being provided by pharmaceutical company, Sanofi Pasteur, said Bagamasbad.

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