IDH’s infectious disease specialist hits DOH’s ‘reactive policies’

PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Ludovico Jurao, infectious disease specialist from the Iloilo Doctor’s Hospital, recounts his ordeal with DOH’s reactive way of responding to reports of the adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines after he himself suffered from blood clots and a stroke following vaccination last March this year. Ironically, Dr. Jurao is among the Ilonggo doctors from the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases who dispelled myths and allayed fears of COVID-19 vaccination only weeks before his stroke. (N. Glenn Aragon/Photo courtesy of Glenda S. Tayona/PN)

ILOILO CITY–This could well have been another setback in the government’s drive to vaccinate a good percentage of the Western Visayas population to achieve herd immunity, especially given the person involved: a physician who may further influence people’s choice not to take the jab. Fortunately, since this happened several months ago, the Department of Health (DOH)-6 has improved the system on how to report and respond to adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines here in the region.

Dr. Ludovico Jurao, an infectious disease specialist of the Iloilo Doctor’s Hospital, believes that up until that time in March of this year, the DOH-6 had no system in place to address adverse reactions following vaccination against COVID-19.

This, he said, following his report to the agency that he suffered a stroke and incurred blood clots several days after being injected with a COVID-19 vaccine.

As a member of the Priority A1 group that includes doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners, he said he was vaccinated on March 10. But barely a week later, on March 16, while in a meeting, a colleague noticed his slurred speech and he was advised to immediately undergo computed tomography (CT) scan, where it was discovered he had blood clots in the brain due to a stroke.

Jurao admitted that he was already hypertensive prior to the stroke.

He believed then—and it has been proven to be true later in rare cases—that the blood clotting he experienced was his adverse reaction to the vaccine and he would write a report about it and submit it with his official records to the DOH-6.

He said that what the Health Department should have done was conduct an immediate investigation to prove the veracity of his claims against the vaccine and its possible effects on individuals.

But Jurao said a DOH-6 representative paid him a visit only to give his records a look.

“Ok lang na tani kun na-stroke ka tungod sa imo kapabayaan pero it was (because of) vaccination. Pero ang natabo was, indi pag-i-accept sang DOH nga vaccine-related (ang blood clotting at stroke), kay may comorbid(ity) kuno ako nga hypertension [It would have been okay had the stroke been due to your own carelessness, but it was because of the vaccine. But what happened was, the DOH did not accept that the blood clotting and stroke were vaccine-related as they said I have a comorbidity, which is hypertension],” the infectious disease specialist averred.

Jurao added that while a representative from the DOH Central Office did call him, he felt he was more at the giving end rather than the receiving one.

“I think during that time sang pagtawag nila sa akon, wala pa sang system. Kay ang sistema nila nag-occur lang after nga nakahambalanay kami. Kay gin-pour out ko sa ila ang akon nga naeksperyensyahan. Amo na nadismaya ako sa response sang Department of Health sang ako nagmasakit [I think during that time when they called me, there was still no system in place. It was only after my conversation with them, during which I poured out all my experiences, that they developed their system. That is why I was so disappointed with the response of the Department of Health when I got sick],” he stated.

Jurao scored how the Health department seems to be more reactive instead of proactive in that they formulate policies only after an emergency instead of laying them down ahead of untoward incidents. (N. Glenn Aragon/iNEWS)

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