Fear, Mistrust, and Vaccine Hesitancy: Narratives of the Dengue Vaccine Controversy in the Philippines

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This article applies a qualitative approach to the 2017 dengue vaccine controversy involving Sanofi Pasteur's Dengvaxia to understand vaccine hesitancy and related anxieties in contemporary Philippines. Through a multisited project that investigated the health aspirations and lived experiences of low- and middle-income Filipinos across urban and rural Philippines, this article distills the perspectives of both ordinary community members and health workers in local and national capacities regarding the controversy-and how it altered their perceptions toward vaccines, health care, and government. Our study reveals widespread mistrust and fear in the communities toward both the state and health institutions following the controversy, with frontline health workers bearing the brunt of the communities' apprehensions, and the media partly responsible in fomenting these fears. Given the repetitive nature of health and vaccine controversies, this article suggests the importance of responsible journalism, well-calibrated crisis communications, and a people-centered health paradigm that involves exploring local contexts of vaccine hesitancy and mining people's lived experiences in tackling present and future health crises-especially now in the advent of COVID-19 vaccinations.