The UK has begun making the vaccine available to some gay men at high risk of being infected with the “monkeypox” virus, UK health officials announced this Tuesday.
The UK Health and Safety Agency said in a statement that experts are considering vaccination of some men at high risk of human infection with the “monkeypox” virus.
The agency has been identified as the highest risk group male who has sex with men, has multiple partners, participates in group sex, or participates in places where sex takes place on the premises.
Mary Ramsey, Head of Immunization, UK Health Department, said:
Last month, a senior adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized that the outbreak of “monkeypox” outside the African continent must have been spread by male sexual activity in “Rave” in Spain and Belgium.
Previously, vaccines were only available to healthcare professionals caring for infected patients or cleaning staff who disinfected areas contaminated with the virus.
The vaccine was originally developed for smallpox, a related disease, but is believed to be about 85% effective against a disease known as monkeypox.
To date, more than 99% of “monkeypox” cases in the UK have occurred in men, most of whom are gay, bisexual, or men having sex with men.
Scientists warn that people infected with smallpox, or who have close physical contact with clothing or bedding, are at risk of getting sick, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Currently, there are 793 cases of “monkeypox” in the United Kingdom, and more than 2,100 cases in 42 countries around the world. No deaths have been reported outside of Africa.
Portugal recorded seven new cases of human infection with the “monkeypox” virus this Tuesday. This means that the total number of infected people has increased to 304, according to data from the Directorate General of Health (DGS).
Until last month, “monkeypox” had only caused significant outbreaks in Central and West Africa, and the African continent has reported more than 1,500 cases and 72 suspected deaths in another epidemic so far.
Vaccines have never been used in Africa to control monkeypox.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, malaise, and progression to rash. The rash will go away and the infected person will not be infected.
Portugal will be vaccinated 2,700 times against the “monkeypox” virus obtained by the European Commission. This was recently reviewed by DGS and has created technical standards that define how it is used.