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Dengue vaccine now available at select Watsons stores



Dengvaxia, a vaccine against dengue, is now available over-the-counter nationwide at select stores of Watsons, the first retailer to offer the vaccine in the Philippines.

Watsons Dengue Vaccine KV 2

“We decided to offer dengue vaccination in our 108 selected stores nationwide as we recognize the importance of having vaccination accessible to Filipinos to protect them against dengue infection and make them healthier. It is our latest addition that we offer in our stores, aside from cervical cancer, flu and pneumonia vaccinations,” says Danilo Chiong, Watsons Trading Health Director.

Produced by pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur, Dengvaxia took over 20 years of extensive research and tests to develop. Studies on the vaccine were conducted on 41,000 people and were carried out in 15 countries including the Philippines. With test results fully reviewed by a committee of independent experts, the vaccine has been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a WHO position paper published in July 29, 2016, it says that to prevent dengue infection, dengue vaccine should be a part of a comprehensive dengue control strategy, which include well-executed and sustained vector controls, evidence-based best practices for clinical care and strong dengue surveillance.

The vaccine has also been endorsed by the Philippine Society for Microbiology and infectious Diseases (PSMID) and Philippine College of Physicians (PCP). In February 2017, the vaccine got the approval to be administered in 14 countries, including the Philippines, where dengue is endemic.

In the Philippines, there were 211,106 reported dengue cases in 2016. The most number of cases was reported in Regions VI, VII, III, IV-A, and XII. All age groups were affected by dengue.

Age bracket and dosage

Since there is no specific treatment for dengue, Dr. Rontgene Solante, Past President at PSMID, said the dengue vaccine can protect individuals against the illness. It can be administered to individuals 9 to 45 years old living in endemic areas for prevention of dengue illness caused by dengue virus serotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4. It is to be taken in three doses of 0.5ml at six-month intervals to increase antibodies response, thereby protecting them from all four strains of the virus. The vaccine, when correctly administered in three doses, stays effective in four to five years.

The vaccine costs P4,000 per dose or P12,000 for all three doses, which is reasonable considering the high incidence of dengue and high cost of treatment in the Philippines.

“The vaccine is not just for kids but adults should also be vaccinated as this is safe and can modify infection. Don’t look at the price but in the long-term benefits it provides,” said Solante.

Solante, however, relayed the vaccine is not effective for children below nine years old. A study made on the vaccine and these children showed that the efficacy of the vaccine was below 50%. Likewise, the vaccine cannot be administered to persons over 45 years old as there was no study made yet about its effectiveness for these individuals.

Apart from these, other persons who have the following cannot take the vaccine: history of severe allergic reaction; congenital or acquired immune deficiency diseases; symptomatic HIV infection; and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Solante, however, said that those were infected by dengue in the past can still avail of the vaccine.

Solante advised individuals to administer the vaccine correctly. “If a person who has taken the first dose fails to take the second dose on the scheduled (sixth) month, and instead take it, let’s say, on the eighth month, the vaccine is still effective. But, if he misses taking it for a couple of years, the vaccine became ineffective and has to start taking it all over again.”

The vaccine is injected in arms via the subcutaneous route over the deltoid region. How is it effective? In his presentation, Dr. Solante said the vaccine can result to 80.8% reduction in hospitalized dengue; 93.2% drop in severe dengue; and 65.6% decline in symptomatic dengue, which means that if a person is infected, symptoms are reduced.

The vaccine does not contain adjuvants or preservatives so the adverse effect or reaction is lower, according to Solante. Adverse reactions include headache, malaise, myalgia, pain, injection site reaction, and other mild to moderate reactions.

A study conducted by the University of the Philippines showed that the vaccine is expected to reduce dengue cases in the country by over 24% in a span of five years.

Meanwhile, Chiong said that they will have a doctor in over 100 selected Watsons stores to administer the vaccine during vaccination dates. The first scheduled dengue vaccination will be on April 30, 2017 (1st dose); October 29, 2017 (2nd dose) and April 29, 2018 (3rd dose). The second schedule vaccination will be on May 14, 2018 (1st dose); November 12, 2018 (2nd dose); and May 13, 2018 (3rd dose).

REYNALDO “Rey” R. VICENTE’s career experience involves mostly research in publishing companies. He previously held the position of Research and Events Director of Media G8way Corp., publisher of Computerworld Philippines (CWP), PC World Philippines, and IT Resource. He also handled events organized for CWP. Prior to this, he was a Research Head of a business publication. Now as co-publisher of Zest Magazine, Rey also serves as Managing Editor. Rey finished his bachelor’s degree majoring in Economics at the University of Santo Tomas.


5 Steps for women to reduce their risk of COPD

Women tend to develop COPD earlier in life than men and are more likely to have severe symptoms and be hospitalized with the disease. The good news? According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk for COPD.



If you’re a woman who tries to stay healthy, you may exercise several times per week, watch what you eat and get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. But are you listening to your lungs?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a leading cause of disability and death in the United States, takes an especially heavy toll on women. You may think problems like shortness of breath, frequent coughs or wheezing are just signs of getting older, but it’s important to pay attention to these symptoms and discuss them with your doctor.

COPD is a serious lung disease that causes breathing problems and worsens over time. It has often been considered a man’s disease. Yet more women than men have been diagnosed with COPD in the past decade, and over the past 20 years more women have died from it, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Women tend to develop COPD earlier in life than men and are more likely to have severe symptoms and be hospitalized with the disease. The good news? According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk for COPD.

Don’t Smoke

You probably already know cigarette smoking is harmful  but did you know that women may be more vulnerable to the effects of smoking? Women who smoke tend to get COPD at younger ages and with less cigarettes smoked than men. COPD is the leading cause of death among U.S. women smokers.

If you do smoke, it’s never too late to quit.

If you thought vaping was a healthy alternative to smoking, think again. Researchers are still learning about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes, but they may contain as many, if not more, harmful chemicals than tobacco cigarettes.

Avoid Pollutants

Among people with COPD who have never smoked, most are women. Women may be more vulnerable to indoor and outdoor air pollution. Women’s smaller lungs and airways mean the same amount of inhaled pollutants may cause more damage.

Working in places like nail salons, hair salons or dry cleaners can expose you to harmful chemicals. If you’re exposed to chemical fumes at your job, talk to your employer about ways to limit exposure. Better ventilation and wearing a mask can help.

Stay Current on Vaccines

People at risk for COPD are more likely to have serious problems resulting from some vaccine-preventable diseases. Ask a health care provider about getting vaccinated against the flu, pneumococcal disease and COVID-19.

Talk to Your Doctor About COPD

Women with COPD tend to be diagnosed later than men when the disease is more severe and treatments are less effective. If you think you could be at risk, or you are having symptoms, bring it up with your health care provider. Treatment can ease symptoms and improve your ability to exercise.

Learn More to Breathe Better

Find more information on COPD from NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe Better program at

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2 Steps to save a life

“By equipping people with Hands-Only CPR training, we are empowering them to spring into action if a loved one needs help, as the majority of cardiac arrests occur at home.”



More than 350,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur annually outside hospital settings. However, a hands-on emergency intervention like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

According to the American Heart Association, 70% of cardiac arrests – electrical malfunctions in the heart that cause an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupt the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs – occur at home, but often family and friends who witness a child, spouse, parent or friend going into cardiac arrest hesitate to perform potentially lifesaving CPR for fear of making the situation worse.

“By equipping people with Hands-Only CPR training, we are empowering them to spring into action if a loved one needs help, as the majority of cardiac arrests occur at home,” said Dr. Anezi Uzendu, M.D., interventional cardiologist and American Heart Association volunteer.

As part of its Hands-Only CPR campaign, nationally supported by the Elevance Health Foundation, the American Heart Association aims to increase awareness about the importance of bystander CPR and offers these two simple steps:

1.      Call 911.
2.      Push hard and fast in the center of the chest of the individual experiencing cardiac arrest.

Using the beat of a familiar song with 100-120 beats per minute, such as “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, can help you stay on pace with the necessary compressions.

“Being able to efficiently perform Hands-Only CPR in the moment can mean the difference between life and death, and by following these two simple steps we can increase someone’s chance of survival from cardiac arrest,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., board certified emergency medicine doctor and chief health officer at Elevance Health. “As a longstanding supporter of the American Heart Association, we remain focused on working together to improve health inequities in our communities by expanding access to training and increasing the number of people who learn and feel confident performing Hands-Only CPR to save lives.”

To find more information, watch a livestream video demonstration of Hands-Only CPR or download a first aid smartphone app, visit

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What you eat could contribute to your menstrual cramps

Roughly 90% of adolescent girls experience menstrual pain. Most use over-the-counter medicine to manage the pain but with limited positive results. Evidence has highlighted that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in processed foods, oil, and sugar reduce inflammation, a key contributor to menstrual pain.



Despite the fact that menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) is the leading cause of school absences for adolescent girls, few girls seek treatment. An analysis of relevant studies suggests that diet may be a key contributor, specifically diets high in meat, oil, sugar, salt, and coffee, which have been shown to cause inflammation.

Roughly 90% of adolescent girls experience menstrual pain. Most use over-the-counter medicine to manage the pain but with limited positive results. Evidence has highlighted that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in processed foods, oil, and sugar reduce inflammation, a key contributor to menstrual pain.

This analysis was designed to study the effect of diet on menstrual pain and identify which foods contribute to it and which can reduce it. Research was conducted through a literature review that found multiple studies that examined dietary patterns that resulted in menstrual pain. In general terms, these studies found that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids reduce it. The muscles in the uterus contract because of prostaglandins, which are active in inflammatory responses. When measuring the Dietary Inflammatory Index, it was found that those on a vegan diet (that excluded animal fat) had the lowest rates of inflammation.

“Researching the effects of diet on menstrual pain started as a search to remedy the pain I personally experienced; I wanted to understand the science behind the association. Learning about different foods that increase and decrease inflammation, which subsequently increase or reduce menstrual pain, revealed that diet is one of the many contributors to health outcomes that is often overlooked. I am hopeful that this research can help those who menstruate reduce the pain they experience and shed light on the importance of holistic treatment options,” says Serah Sannoh, lead author of the poster presentation from Rutgers University.

“Since menstrual pain is a leading cause of school absenteeism for adolescent girls, it’s important to explore options that can minimize the pain. Something like diet modification could be a relatively simple solution that could provide substantial relief for them,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

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