- by Gary Finnegan

Brazil launches dengue vaccination program

Paraná State’s dengue vaccine program targets 500,000 people

Brazil’s dengue vaccination program in Paraná marks the first of its kind in Latin America. The populous region has more than 10 million residents, 85% of whom live in densely-populated urban centers. Dengue incidence has tripled from 2013 to 2015, prompting Paraná health officials to lead the way in embracing the first dengue vaccine.

Map showing the location of the dengue vaccination program launch in Brazil.

Brazil’s Paraná State launches the first public dengue immunization program in the Americas

The southern Brazilian state of Paraná rolls out public vaccination campaign against dengue fever

Officials there say they initial campaign will target 500,000 people in urban areas where the human and economic burden of dengue fever is highest. People around Brazil can also access the dengue vaccine program at private healthcare clinics.

During the period from 2015 to 2016, Paraná has recorded more than 55,000 cases of dengue, 843 cases of severe dengue, and 61 deaths, at a cost of around €90 million.

Learn more about the global cost of dengue

The introduction of the immunization initiative makes Paraná the first state in the Americas to avail of the vaccine.

Disease surveillance and community engagement 

The new vaccine fits into a broader dengue control strategy which includes robust disease monitoring and engagement with local communities, according to officials in Paraná.

“The world finally has a clinical prevention tool against dengue that has been shown to be efficacious in the Brazilian population, as well as endorsed by the WHO,” says, Michele Caputo Neto, Minister of Health for Paraná State.

“With our strong disease surveillance and community mobilization infrastructure in Paraná State, we are well-positioned to introduce the first public dengue immunization program in the Americas to significantly reduce our disease burden.”

Dengue continues to represent a growing public health threat for Brazilians with disruptive outbreaks that often paralyze local healthcare systems. As the country prepares for visitors attending the Olympic opening ceremony in Rio next week, its health service will be in the spotlight will be hoping to avoid major epidemics.

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In 2015, over 1.6 million Brazilians reported being ill with dengue. The real figure may be much higher. Almost 60% of the reported dengue cases in the country occur in individuals 10 to 39 years of age3, which falls within the approved age range (9 to 45 years) for the Dengvaxia® vaccine in Brazil.

This pre-adolescent to adult population represents a highly mobile and social segment of the community who contribute significantly to spread the infection. In 28 of Paraná’s municipalities, people between 15 and 27 years will be vaccinated. In the municipalities of Paranaguá and Assaí the vaccine will target the complete age range – between 9 and 44 years.

This approach has been taken because the younger population, between 15 and 27 years of age, account for about 30% of the dengue cases in Paraná. The full vaccine age range will be targeted in municipalities with a disease incidence greater than 8,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

See why it’s time we all care about dengue 

Public health trendsetter?

Paraná’s new dengue vaccination program is not the world’s first – that honor was claimed by the Philippines earlier this year – but it does make the Brazilian state a trendsetter in the region.

The vaccine is also registered in Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Regulatory review processes for the dengue vaccine are continuing in other countries where dengue is a public health priority.

Discover the public health value of dengue vaccination

More good news may not be far away: Mexico’s national advisory council on immunization has also agreed on recommendations for the use of the dengue vaccine, prompting speculation that it could become the next country to launch a public program.

Will Paraná’s public program put pressure on its peers?