There is a need for effective preventive interventions against dengue, a disease caused by four viruses, spread by mosquitos. Dengue is very common in Indonesia, especially during the rainy season. One dengue vaccine was licensed in Indonesia in 2016.
What is the vaccine?
For now, there is only one dengue vaccine that is licensed. It was first licensed in Mexico in December of 2015 for use in individuals between the ages of nine and 45 living in endemic areas. The vaccine is a live dengue vaccine developed by a French pharmaceutical company. The vaccine is made of live viruses that have been altered so they become harmless or less virulent.
It protects against the four viruses that can cause dengue. It was given as a series of three on a 0/6/12 month schedule. The cost is roughly Rp.1,500,000 per vaccination (you will need all three shots).
The vaccine has been evaluated in two clinical trials (in five Asian countries and five Latin American countries). Together, these trials included over 35,000 participants aged two to 16 years: ages at first vaccination were two to 14 years in one trial and nine to 16 years in another. As the majority of the participants were in the age group of nine to 16 years, the Indonesian national agency of drug and food control decided to license this vaccine for this particular age group only.
The World Health Organization recommends that countries consider introducing the dengue vaccine only in geographic settings where epidemiological data indicates a high burden of disease.
Avoiding mosquito bites is important to preventing diseases. Remember that malaria, zika, Japanese encephalitis and chikungunya are also spread by mosquitos.
Vector control is still the best way to control or prevent the transmission of the dengue virus. This includes:
- Preventing mosquitoes from accessing egg-laying habitats by environmental changes
- Covering and emptying and cleaning domestic water storage containers weekly
- Applying appropriate insecticides to outdoor water storage containers
- Using mosquito repellants that contain DEET or Eucalyptus oil.
- Using household protection such as window screens, long-sleeved clothes, insecticide-treated materials and vaporizers
- Space spraying, applying insecticides and fogging
It makes sense to do all of the above and consider vaccination against dengue for anyone in the right age group. Please consult your trusted medical practitioner with any further questions.