A DECISION has not been made on the dengue fever vaccine Dengvaxia, which has been found to have side effects for people who have not previously been infected, the Disease Control Department (DDC) stated yesterday.
While the official decision on Dengvaxia was still pending, DDC deputy director-general Asadang Ruayajin said yesterday that people should have a medical consultation before being administered the vaccine, even though no ill effects had been detected in Thailand.
Asadang said the Public Health Ministry would convene its immunisation subcommittee next week, when a decision would be made on how authorities would deal with the vaccine. Authorities in the Philippines have already discontinued their mass vaccination programme and announced plans to sue the manufacturer, the pharmaceuticals giant Sanofi.
“The situation in Thailand is quite different from the Philippines because we did not register this as a standard vaccine or implement nationwide immunisation, so for now we only suggest that people who decide to have the vaccine first consult a doctor to consider the side effects,” Asadang said.
He added that not many people in Thailand had received the vaccine, as Dengvaxia could only be obtained at some private hospitals, but the department did not have an exact count of people affected.
An expert on the vaccine at the Faculty of Tropical Medicine at Mahidol University, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that Dengvaxia had side effects for people who had never contracted dengue before but that group only accounted for 10 per cent of people in Thailand given the disease’s prevalence.
“According to the latest findings, people who have not been infected with dengue should not use this vaccine, and it is a very good thing that Sanofi disclosed this fact, as it can prevent people from suffering from severe dengue, if they are naturally infected after getting the vaccine,” the source said.
“However, as of now, this is the best and softest dengue vaccine that we have and it is scientifically proven that it can significantly reduce the hospitalisation rate of dengue patients and prevent the infection by up to 65 per cent.”
Earlier this month, the Philippines cancelled its dengue vaccination programme based on recent findings announced by Sanofi, which highlighted that severe symptoms could occur following vaccination for people who are infected for the first time.