Is it safe to buy Japanese encephalitis vaccine online?

There is a recent fear to Japanese encephalitis, a deadly viral disease that is mostly affecting children, in the Philippines due to social media frenzy especially when 9 documented cases have been reported dead.

Both the Department of Health (DOH) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), however, assure the public that there is no reason to panic over this mosquito-borne disease.  According to the DOH, lesser number of cases was seen this year compared to the previous years.  The health department said only 133 cases have been recorded as of August 26, which is 44% lower than the data recorded during the same period last year.  This data include the 9 reported deaths.

The panic it has created caused a high demand for the vaccine and a growing fear of shortage of the vaccine. But the PIDSP said that there is no shortage of vaccine since this has been being given by pediatricians at least in private practice.  Due to the higher demand however, the vaccine has become out-of-stocks this month. This was seen by online sellers as opportunity to sell this vaccine.

The DOH and Food and Drug Administration, however, warned the public against buying Japanese Encephalitis vaccine or any other vaccine being sold online or from unauthorized distributors or retailers. The Food and Drug Administration recently issued Advisory No. 2017–265 warning the public against accessing vaccines online or from non–FDA authorized sellers to avoid being at risk of buying vaccines of poor quality or compromised by non–compliance to the required standards of FDA, or worse, of buying counterfeit products. It may pose more risk to the children if counterfeit or poor quality vaccines were administered. The health department strongly recommends parents to always go to their physician to immunize their children.

Sanofi Pasteur is the only FDA-accredited company to supply the Japanese encephalitis vaccine.  The company assures that there is no scarcity of the vaccine, although they are exerting extra effort to immediately deliver more of it to authorized channels.

According to Sanofi, the Japanese encephalitis vaccine is administered subcutaneously as a single dose for those 9 months and older. For individuals 9 months to 17 years of age, a booster dose is recommended 12 to 24 months after the primary dose.

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