Frequently Asked Questions About the Dengue Vaccine

What is the new dengue vaccine?

Dengvaxia is approved for the prevention of dengue caused by all four dengue viruses. It is a live attenuated (weakened) virus vaccine.

Who can get the dengue vaccine?

  • It is approved for use in children 9–16 years old who have a previous history of laboratory-confirmed dengue infection. Only children with laboratory-confirmed evidence of previous dengue infection should be vaccinated.
  • Children must also be living in areas where dengue occurs frequently or continuously, which include American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

Why is the vaccine recommended for children 9–16 years old only?

Data from the clinical trials showed that the vaccine worked better at preventing hospitalization or severe dengue in children 9–16 years old than in younger children. Most of the clinical trials testing the vaccine were done in children 16 years old and younger, because that age group is at highest risk for dengue in areas where dengue occurs frequently.

What does “laboratory-confirmed” mean?

A blood test is the only way to confirm dengue infection. Your child’s healthcare provider will review your child’s medical records or order blood testing to confirm a previous dengue infection.

  • If test results show evidence of previous dengue infection, your child can be vaccinated.
  • If test results do not show evidence of previous dengue infection, your child should not be vaccinated.

If a child has a dengue infection, how soon afterwards can they be vaccinated?

Children with dengue should wait at least 6 months after the date the dengue illness is confirmed to begin the Dengvaxia vaccine series.

Why is the vaccine only approved for use in children with a previous history of dengue infection?

Children without previous dengue infection are at increased risk for severe dengue disease and hospitalization if they get dengue after they are vaccinated with Dengvaxia. For this reason, healthcare providers should check for evidence of a laboratory-confirmed previous dengue infection before vaccination.

Where does dengue occur frequently or continuously?

Dengue occurs frequently or continuously in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and in the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

  • Dengue is rare in the continental United States. Most dengue cases in the continental United States are imported cases. Imported cases happen when travelers become infected overseas, and then return to the United States.

Can the vaccine be administered to children who travel to or are visiting, but not living, in an area where dengue is common?

No. The vaccine is not approved for children traveling to or visiting areas where dengue is common. It is only recommended for children living in areas where dengue occurs frequently or continuously.

Who should NOT get vaccinated against dengue?

The vaccine should not be administered to:

  • Children who do not meet the age requirement.
  • Children without a laboratory-confirmed previous dengue virus infection.
  • Children who have had a severe (life-threatening) allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.
  • Children who have a severe (life-threatening) allergy to any ingredient in this vaccine.
  • Children with weakened immune systems.

How many doses of the dengue vaccine are recommended?

Children need three doses of Dengvaxia for protection.

  • The first dose can be given to children 9–16 years old after laboratory confirmation of a previous dengue infection.
  • The second dose should be given 6 months after the first dose.
  • The third dose should be given 6 months after the second dose.

Can children who turn 17 years old after their first dose receive the second and third doses?

Yes. If your child turns 17 years old after the first dose, they should continue to receive the second and third doses of the vaccine according to the recommended vaccination schedule.

How is the dengue vaccine administered?

The vaccine is given by injection.

What are side effects of the vaccine?

The most common side effects after vaccination with Dengvaxia are soreness, itchiness, or pain where the vaccination was given. Headaches, lack of energy, and general discomfort can also occur.

  • Not everyone will have side effects, but if a person does, the side effects normally go away within a few days.

How effective is the vaccine?

Overall, Dengvaxia protects children from dengue illness, hospitalization, and severe dengue 8 out of 10 times.

How long will protection last?

We are still learning about how long the vaccine protects children, but data from clinical trials indicate that the vaccine can protect children against dengue for at least 6 years. Over time, we will learn more about how long vaccine protection lasts.

Does the vaccine help prevent other mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika or chikungunya?

No. This vaccine is only effective in preventing dengue, which is caused by the four dengue viruses.