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WHO recommends targeted monkeypox vaccination

After over 18,000 cases of monkeypox in 78 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends targeted vaccination for those who have been exposed to an infected person and for those at high risk of exposure, including health workers, laboratory workers and people with multiple sexual partners. “We do not currently recommend mass vaccination against monkeypox,” agency chief Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus said on Wednesday.

He shared that a smallpox vaccine called MVA-BN has been approved for use against monkeypox in Canada, the European Union and the United States, while two other vaccines, LC16 and ACAM2000, are currently under consideration. “However, we still lack data on the effectiveness of monkeypox vaccines or how many doses might be required. Therefore, we urge all countries using vaccines to collect and share important data on their effectiveness,” he said. The expert added that WHO is developing a research framework that countries could use to generate the data needed to better understand how effective these vaccines are at preventing both infection and disease, and how to use them most effectively . Vaccination does not provide immediate protection against infection or disease and can take several weeks. “This means that those who have been vaccinated should continue to take steps to protect themselves by avoiding close contact, including sex, with others who have or are at risk of monkeypox,” stressed the WHO Secretary-General.

There are currently challenges with the availability of vaccines. While there are about 16 million doses of the smallpox vaccine MVA-BN worldwide, most are in bulk form, meaning it will take several months to “fill and finish” in ready-to-use vials. Several countries with cases of monkeypox have secured supplies of the vaccine and WHO is in contact with other countries to assess their supply needs. “WHO is urging countries that have smallpox vaccines to share them with countries that don’t. We must ensure equal access to vaccines for all individuals and communities affected by monkeypox in all countries and regions,” said the Ethiopian. While vaccines are an important tool, surveillance, diagnosis and risk reduction remain key to preventing transmission and stopping the outbreak. +++

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