‘Keep anti-breeding measures despite availability of vaccine’


PETALING JAYA: Measures to prevent mosquito breeding in urban areas must still be in place, even though a vaccine for dengue is now available in Malaysia, where dengue is endemic, say public healthcare experts.

In the same vein, the experts argue that authorities should look at making the vaccine available in public healthcare settings, as the vaccine is only accessible in the private healthcare sector now.

Universiti Malaya Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Centre executive director Prof Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar said vaccines are complementary tools to mitigate and ameliorate dengue.

However, the jab alone, he said, will not be sufficient to reduce the incidence of the disease.

“We need to detect dengue infection much earlier, within 48 hours of fever, by introducing a home self-test for dengue and preventing mosquito bites by using mosquito repellents for those positive for dengue during the fever phase,” he said.

Meanwhile, virologist Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Lam Sai Kit questioned whether the government had the funds to provide the dengue vaccine to the public.

“We must remember that the government has expanded a lot of its health budget on Covid-19 vaccines during the pandemic.

“Hopefully, the price of the (dengue) vaccine will come down to more affordable levels for wider usage,” he said, adding that merely dispensing the vaccine through the private sector will not create any impact on the incidence of dengue in the population.

“For now, I am glad to see that a dengue vaccine is available in the country for those who want and can afford it,” added the research consultant at Universiti Malaya and senior fellow at the Academy of Sciences Malaysia.

He said it is important for the young and elderly to get the vaccine because they are at a higher risk of severe complications from dengue fever.

“We have waited a long time for a dengue vaccine.

“Hopefully, it will be possible to offer it to those at high risk, at least by the government,” he said.

“Savings from other preventive measures in use can be diverted to help subsidise dengue vaccination,” he added.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh said since the vaccine is estimated to cost around RM373 for two doses, there must be an allocation for the vaccine in the national budget.

She said Malaysia’s long history with dengue and deaths makes the inclusion of the dengue vaccine under the National Immunisation Programme ideal.

Asked whether the vaccine was already available at private facilities, Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia president Dr Shanmuganathan TV Ganeson said it has yet to be available at clinics.

“I understand it is available in some hospitals.

“Medical representatives from Takeda (the manufacturer) have yet to come to the clinics to introduce the vaccine.

“I have checked with some of the suppliers and they don’t stock it either,” he said.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said on June 8 that it will take time for the government to include dengue vaccination in the National Immunisation Programme, mainly due to cost reasons.

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dengue , vacine , MOH

   

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