Mums, here's all you need to know about the dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia!

How effective is the new dengue vaccine in Singapore? Is this new dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia really for all? Read about the pros and cons!

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So Dengvaxia, the dengue vaccine is finally here. According to The Straits Times, Dengvaxia, the world’s first vaccine for dengue, has recently been given the go ahead in Singapore. But from what we understand, it’s too early to heave a sigh of relief. Allow us to break the good, the bad and the ugly for you about dengue vaccines.

The good about Dengvaxia

  • Based on studies, the dengue vaccine can prevent severe dengue infections in the age group 12- 45.
  • The dengue vaccine seems to be really effective when administered to people who have had dengue before, even boasting of an efficacy of 81%.
  • Dengvaxia seems to work really well against the Den-3 and Den-4 strains of the dengue virus, showing an above average efficacy of 75- 77 %.
  • The dengue vaccine only seems to display the side effects typical to all vaccines. These include soreness at the injection site, a low-grade fever, headaches and muscle aches.
  • While not providing lifelong immunity, results so far have shown that Dengvaxia is effective up to four years from the administration of the last dose.

Dengvaxia does not immune for life. So ask your doctor about future doses. (image source: file photo)

The bad about Dengvaxia

  • Dengvaxia is not recommended for children under 12 (Oops!). This is because clinical trials show that children of this age group did not respond favourably at all to this vaccine. It actually tripled their chances of developing severe dengue and getting hospitalised.
  • Adults over 45 did not seem to develop any sort of immunity from Dengvaxia either (according to a study conducted in Australia).
  • Against Den-1 and Den-2, which are the more common dengue strains in Singapore, Dengvaxia’s efficacy is a meagre 50% and 40% respectively.
  • According to The Straits Times, the Health Ministry has said the vaccine will not be part of a national vaccination programme because it would not be a “clinically and cost-effective means to tackling dengue infection in Singapore”.The vaccine will hence not be subsidised, and you cannot use Medisave to pay for it.

At this point of time, we are unable to say for sure whether the benefits outweigh the risks. So consult your family doctor or paediatrician before anyone in the family decides to get vaccinated for dengue.

What we must still continue to do

The dengue vaccine might be here but we can in no way afford to be complacent in our fight against mosquitoes. Especially because Singapore is also home to many other mosquito-borne diseases like Malaria, Chikungunya and now, the dreaded Zika. Here is what we can try to do in our battle against this formidable warrior.

  • The 5 step Mozzie wipeout : Singapore’s National Environment Agency recommends 5 simple steps to keep your home mosquito free. Turn the pail; tip the vase. Flip the flower pot plate, then loosen the hardened soil. Clear the roof gutter and place Bti insecticide. The whole idea is to prevent any form of stagnant water which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. So if you see stagnant water anywhere in the house, you know what to do.
  • Use a mosquito spray-  Look for deet-free products which are safe to use and apply directly on skin.
  • Stick on a mosquito repellent patch-  These are super easy to use specially on your kid. Again, look for deet-free products which are safe to stick on children’s clothing.

update: As of December 2017, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) have warned against the dangers of the vaccine. In an advisory, they cautioned doctors against giving Dengvaxia to those who have not had dengue. This is because they believe it elevates the future risk of severe dengue in those not previously infected. It’s best to consult a physician about your questions and concerns about the vaccine.

source: The Straits Times, Channel News Asia

Also READ: How much do you know about dengue fever in children