MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government’s vaccination program against COVID-19 will not be suspended following reports on the death of a healthcare worker after receiving a dose, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
In a statement, the DOH stressed that the healthcare worker died due to coronavirus disease and not due to the vaccine based on the investigation conducted by the regional and national AEFI committees.
“Upon completion of the investigation following 2019 WHO AEFI causality assessment methodology, the NAEFIC, and RAEFIC concluded that the cause of the death was caused by COVID-19 itself, not by the COVID-19 vaccine,” the DOH said.
“COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause COVID-19,” it added.
The health worker who died on March 15 tested positive for COVID-19, the agency said.
This is the first reported death following vaccination.
The DOH earlier reported several minor side effects among inoculated individuals. Serious adverse events such as difficulty of breathing and chest pains were also reported.
Health experts have repeatedly explained that experiencing side effects is normal when taking a vaccine, and while adverse events following vaccination may be observed, some of these may not be actually caused by the vaccination.
This is why expert panels are conducting an investigation to prove the cause.
The DOH and the Food and Drug Administration also emphasized that vaccines “are only one part of the solution in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic to an end.”
“Even with vaccines, people must continue with the important prevention measures already in place: wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands frequently, and avoiding crowded places and settings,” the DOH said.
The agency renewed its call to all health workers to get vaccinated, especially amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Millions of people around the world have received this vaccine, and evidence continues to show that the benefit of vaccination outweighs the risk of severe disease and death caused by COVID-19,” it said.