Forum: Consider selective use of Dengvaxia vaccine for seniors

I wish to comment on and give more information regarding The Straits Times' report on the dengue surge in Singapore (Dengue cases cross 8,000 mark within first 5 months of this year, May 15).

For readers' information, a safe and effective vaccine to protect people from dengue infection, Dengvaxia, has been available and approved for use in Singapore by the Health Sciences Authority since October 2016.

This vaccination, however, is not recommended for those who have not had dengue infection before, as an increased risk of hospitalisation for dengue and severe dengue has been observed.

In my considered view, this caution may not apply as much to the elderly above 65 who, because of their age, would have been exposed to the dengue virus before in their younger years, or might actually have had dengue with no or mild symptoms.

And because older people are at higher risk of severe dengue and death, I feel the judicious use of the vaccine - with a check for previous infection - for this segment of the population can add significantly to the tools we have to fight dengue.

Perhaps it could be considered as a potential preventive measure in addition to the proven public health interventions already in place?

Tikki Pang (Professor)

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