First dengue vaccine to be more widely available
Dengue fever, which is spread around by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is one of today’s deadly diseases. According to Dr. Rontgene Solante, past president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID), there were 211,106 suspected cases of dengue in 2016, with about a thousand reported cases leading to death. It affects all age groups.
In the world, the Philippines ranked seventh in the highest number of dengue cases from 2004 to 2010. It ranks fourth overall in the Asia-Pacific region from 2008 to 2012. The regions with the most cases of dengue cases are Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Western Visayas , Central Visayas, and Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City).
Besides the health risks, dengue also has an impact on public health, costing billions of pesos of tax payers money with treatment costing tens of thousands in pesos per patient.
In 2015, Sanofi Pasteur, a multinational pharmaceutical company known for the development of vaccinations, released the first vaccine against dengue, Dengvaxia. It took more than 20 years to develop and has been thoroughly tested, based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Studies of the vaccine included more than 41,000 people and were carried out in 15 countries including the Philippines. The results were fully reviewed by a committee of independent experts and has also been recommended by WHO.
The dengue vaccination was launched in the country by the Department of Health (DoH) together with the Department of Education (DepEd), through school-based immunizations. The program targets about one million Grade 4 pupils, aged nine years old and above, enrolled in public schools in several regions of the country. The vaccine was later made available in medical clinics last year.
In February 2017, the vaccine has been approved in 14 dengue-affected countries including Singapore, Mexico, Brazil and the Philippines.
The dengue vaccine has obtained the endorsement of the PSMID and Philippine College of Physicians. According to a study by the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health, the vaccine is expected to reduce dengue cases in the country by over 24 percent in a span of five years.
Dr. Solante said the vaccine, which is taken in three doses at zero-six-12 months interval, can protect the individual from all four strains of the dengue virus, and can be administered to people aged nine to 45 years old.
Now, health and beauty chain Watsons is making Dengvaxia available in select Watsons stores nationwide, making it the first retailer to offer the vaccine in the Philippine market.
“As part of our commitment to improve the lives and health of Filipinos by making health care more accessible to them, we decided to offer dengue vaccination in our select stores nationwide. Dengue is a recurring epidemic in the country, that’s why we recognize the importance of protecting Filipinos against this deadly disease through the vaccination,” Danilo Chiong, Watsons Trading Health director, said.
Aside from beauty and other personal need products, Watsons also carry pharmaceutical products, including vaccines and vaccination services.
“Watsons also offer cervical cancer, flu and pneumonia vaccination at scheduled intervals throughout the year. We will have a doctor in store during vaccination dates to administer the vaccination,” Chiong said.
The dengue vaccine will cost P4,000 per dose or P12,000 for all three doses. The first scheduled dengue vaccination this year and the next will be on April 30 (first dose), October 29 (second dose) and April 29, 2018 (third dose). The second scheduled dengue vacation will be on May 14 (first dose), November 12 (second dose) and May 13, 2018 (third dose). This will be available in more than 100 stores nationwide.