101 East

Philippines Vaccine Scandal

How the consequences of a 2016 dengue vaccination drive caused controversy and led to lasting fears among Filipinos.

Content warning: This film contains images of deceased children.

When the Philippines rolled out a vaccine to protect against the mosquito-borne virus, dengue, in 2016, it marked a world first. But within months, parents claimed their children had died due to the vaccine, and the programme was cancelled.

The damage was done. As fierce opposition to vaccinations spread throughout the country, preventable diseases like polio and diphtheria re-emerged, while a deadly measles epidemic killed hundreds of young people.

Now the Philippines is trying to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations, but its government is facing an uphill battle to convince people that it’s safe.

101 East follows the Filipinos trying to restore faith in vaccines.