DOH backs review of dengue vaccine efficacy

MANILA –The Department of Health (DOH) said Monday that it is currently evaluating the efficacy of dengue vaccines being rolled-out in three targeted regions among Grade 4 students in public schools.

“DOH is monitoring (dengue) vaccine efficacy because of earlier reports that the current dengue vaccine has less than 50 percent protection against dengue serotypes 1 and 2, which are the most common circulating serotypes in the country,” said DOH Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial.

Ubial added that part of the review includes assessment of some statements and views citing that previous infection prior to vaccination and circulating serotypes can affect the dengue vaccine efficacy.

From April to July, more than 489,003 eligible children received their first dose of the vaccine in Regions IV-A (CALABARZON), National Capital Region and Region III (Central Luzon).

A total of three doses with an interval of six months each is needed to complete the dosage of the vaccine.

Second dose is set to be given by October of this year and the remaining ones will be after six months to complete the dosage.

Dengue vaccine (Dengvaxia®) was developed by Sanofi Pasteur after more than 22 years of clinical research and studies.

The vaccine was first licensed in Mexico before it was licensed in four other countries including the Philippines.

It was started to roll-out as part of the school-based immunization program under the previous administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III through the leadership then of former DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin with a budget of PHP3 billion targeting 1,077,623 Grade 4 pupils studying in public schools in regions having a high number of dengue cases recorded.

Prior to rolling-out of the first dose of vaccine in April, the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (WHO-SAGE) issued a recommendation stating that the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia be used in countries with high transmission settings; that it should not be administered to children younger than nine years old, with all three doses completed; and that the vaccine should not replace other strategies to fight dengue.

In addition, WHO recently issued a statement on dengue vaccine introduction in countries with greater than 50 percent prevalence among age groups targeted for vaccination.

Meanwhile, despite the introduction of the vaccine, Ubial said that efforts to eliminate breeding places should be continued and intensified to counter rising cases of dengue in Regions CALABARZON, Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, and Davao Region.

Latest data showed that from Jan. 1 – July 16, a total of 8,059 cases were recorded in Region IV-A (CALABARZON) in contrast to just 7,626 cases recorded on the same period last year.

Central Visayas on the other hand has a total of 6,422 cases compared to just 2,768 cases on the same period last year.

“The public is advised to intensify household measures with local government initiatives. Local governments are likewise advised against indiscriminate fogging or space spraying. Those with fever are advised to consult early,” the Health Chief added.

She also reminded hospitals to establish dengue express lanes to prevent overcrowding.

Not all dengue patients will need hospitalization because some can just be observed and managed at home.

“ Dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases may be prevented if we put our collected efforts and start our actions within our homes through the ‘4s campaign’. The 4S means Search & destroy mosquito breeding places, useSelf-protection measures, Seek early consultation for fever lasting more than 2 days, and Say NO to indiscriminate fogging,” she further said.

Dengue fever is spread by the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes.

Dengue fever is characterized by the rapid development of a fever that may last from two to seven days with intense headache, joint and muscle pain and a rash.

Mild bleeding of the nose or gums may occur.

Hemorrhagic form of dengue fever is more severe and associated with loss of appetite, vomiting, high fever, headache, difficulty breathing and abdominal pain. Shock and circulatory failure may occur.

Untreated hemorrhagic dengue results in death in 40 to 50 percent of cases.

Dengue fever may occur from three to 14 days after exposure to an infected mosquito, commonly within four to seven days.

Infection with one of the four strains of dengue virus usually produces immunity to that strain but does not provide protection against the other strains.

There is no specific treatment available except for proper management of the patient by providing intravenous fluids and oxygen therapy which are often used in managing the patients severely inflicted with it. PNA/