‘No plans for wider rollout of dengue vaccine in Selangor’


Stagnant water seen in plastic containers in Puchong. Public awareness on the importance of eliminating mosquito breeding grounds is part of government efforts to fight dengue. — Filepic

S’gor exco member talks costs and community hygiene as 2024 dengue cases rise past 30,000

SELANGOR has no plans to change its strategy of emphasising prevention measures to combat dengue, even as cases rise and a new vaccine against the disease has become available, says a state exco member.

According to Selangor public health and environment committee chairman Jamaliah Jamaluddin, the state’s strategy remains focused on educating the public to eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites in their surroundings.

However, she said those in high-risk areas would be encouraged to consider taking the Qdenga vaccine, which was granted conditional approval by Malaysia’s Drug Control Authority in February, for extra protection.

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Data from the Selangor Health Department revealed that almost all districts recorded a rise in dengue cases during the 22nd epidemiological week (May 27 to June 2) of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

Specifically, Selangor reported 1,255 cases, with Hulu Langat and Gombak noting increases of 12.3% (338 cases) and 16.8% (230 cases) respectively. Only Petaling district saw a slight decrease of 0.2%.

Azhari removing water accumulated in the plate at the bottom of his flower pot to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. — Photos: SAMUEL ONG and LEW GUAN XI/The StarAzhari removing water accumulated in the plate at the bottom of his flower pot to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. — Photos: SAMUEL ONG and LEW GUAN XI/The Star

The figure for the year so far is alarming, with a reported 33,754 dengue cases – a 406% increase compared to the same period in 2021 (see graphic).

The state recorded 58,116 cases for the whole of last year.

The data shows 46 hotspots in the state, with Petaling district having the highest number (27), followed by Hulu Langat (nine), Gombak (six), Klang and Hulu Selangor (two each).

In light of this, Jamaliah urged the public to adopt proactive measures such as using mosquito repellent, installing window screens and eliminating standing water.

Jamaliah says state government will consider offering Qdenga vaccine to high-risk groups.Jamaliah says state government will consider offering Qdenga vaccine to high-risk groups.

“By working together, we can make a significant difference in reducing dengue in our community,” she said, adding that regular fogging in hotspots would continue.

On the Qdenga vaccine, which protects against all four dengue virus serotypes and was officially launched on June 11, Jamaliah said it had been available in private clinics and hospitals since mid-May.

“Its price will vary depending on the individual clinic and hospital,” she said.

According to news reports, the vaccine is administered in two doses over three months to individuals aged four and above.

According to manufacturer Takeda Malaysia, clinical trials had shown that the vaccine successfully prevented 80.2% of symptomatic dengue cases at 12 months after vaccination.

After a period of four-and-a-half years, the vaccine’s efficacy was at 84.1% against hospitalisation and 61.2% against symptomatic cases.

Asked if the state would consider a wider rollout of the vaccine, Jamaliah said further research and discussions with key leaders was needed.

“Besides understanding its potential impact and efficacy, we also need to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Hence, it is still not available in public hospitals.

“Though it is unlikely that the vaccine will be made free to everyone, we would consider providing it for free to high-risk groups,” she told StarMetro.

Proactive measures

However, some Selangor residents when interviewed say they plan to focus on self-prevention to keep dengue at bay.

Taman Melawati Residents Association chairman Azhari Abdul Taharim said events like gotong-royong would be unnecessary if everyone was disciplined enough to keep their place clear of mosquitoes.

“I suffered from a very high fever and bad headache when I came down with dengue fever six to seven years ago, and I don’t want a repeat of it.

“I will always remove water accumulated underneath my flower pots,” he said.

“I also make sure that there is no stagnant water inside my house, especially in the bathrooms. These actions are quite tedious, but they are necessary,” he added.

Azhari also supports the state’s directives and would consider the vaccine if procured by the government.

Thinatayallam: Close cooperation within the community is key to preventing dengue.Thinatayallam: Close cooperation within the community is key to preventing dengue.

“If the government procures the vaccine, I will take it even if I need to pay. Prevention is always better than cure,” he said.

He also called on the state government to ramp up its dengue awareness campaign through various media channels.

Taman Melawati in Gombak was listed as one of the dengue hotspots in the 21st epidemiological week (May 20 to 26).

For Kajang resident Kam Kim Tong, 58, current state-level dengue prevention measures failed to address the root cause, namely poor cleanliness.

Having a 4.6m x 1.8m garden filled with pandan and potato leaves in his compound, Kam said he cleaned the plot at least once a week to keep mosquitoes away.

“The cleaning includes weeding and pruning of overgrown leaves, which could become a suitable breeding ground for the mosquitoes,” he said.

Kam weeding his garden to keep it clean. He says authorities have failed to address the root cause of rising dengue cases.Kam weeding his garden to keep it clean. He says authorities have failed to address the root cause of rising dengue cases.

Kam, who had no plans to take the dengue vaccine, called for improved law enforcement to deter littering.

He also suggested state aid for residents associations (RAs) to support dengue prevention initiatives such as gotong-royong.

“The amount of allocation can vary depending on the population size in the RA jurisdiction.

“Competitions between different residential areas can also be held.

“The cleanest area should receive extra reward as motivation,” he added.

In response, Jamaliah said RAs could apply for assistance through their respective councillors.

Fogging being carried out by Ampang Jaya Municipal Council at Permai Puteri Apartment in Taman Dato Ahmad Razali in February. — FilepicFogging being carried out by Ampang Jaya Municipal Council at Permai Puteri Apartment in Taman Dato Ahmad Razali in February. — Filepic

“The state government has provided funds to local councils for dengue control and prevention programmes,” she said.

It was previously reported that Selangor government had allocated RM4.4mil in its budget for 2024 for such programmes.

“We also have designated funding for dengue programmes through our health volunteer team, ‘Sukarelawan Kesihatan Komuniti Selangor’ (Suka), which has been established in each state constituency,” Jamaliah added.

Thinatayallam Ponnusamy, chairman of the joint management body of Puchong’s Vista Lavender Apartment – one of the dengue hotspots in the state – said close cooperation within the community was key to preventing the viral disease.

“My staff will report the number of recorded dengue cases every day through a community group chat to keep the residents informed.

“If everyone does their part to maintain the cleanliness of their own compounds, the dengue situation will surely improve,” he said.

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