HIV Ireland is welcoming the rollout of the smallpox vaccine to people at high risk of Monkeypox infection.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has said the vaccine should be offered to:
- Gay and bisexual men.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Those at high-risk of unprotected exposure.
People in these groups will be offered two does of the smallpox vaccine 28 apart “as soon as practicable.”
HIV Ireland MPOWER Programme Manager Adam Shanley told Newstalk the announcement could help end the Monkeypox outbreak.
“We definitely welcome the announcement making vaccines available to gay and bisexual men at highest risk of acquiring monkeypox,” he said.
“We are in the outbreak a couple of weeks now and we know that this is really effective tool at either minimising the disease and also bringing the outbreak to an end.
“It is a really welcome development.”
He noted that, while anybody can pick up Monkeypox, the country outbreak is largely among men who have sex with men.
“Cases globally, outside of endemic regions, 98% are among gay and bisexual men,” he said. “In Ireland, that’s 100%.
“So, the communications and awareness campaigns we have been doing at the MPOWER Programme at HIV Ireland have been targeted specifically at that community.”
Announcing the rollout yesterday, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said most people recover from Monkeypox within a few weeks.
He said the targeted vaccine rollout should be “highly efficient in controlling further spread of the disease”.
Latest available data from the HPSC shows it has been notified of 69 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ireland.
The interim Chief Medical Officer Dr Breda Smith said she would “strongly encourage those with symptoms of infection to seek medical advice and follow the public health guidance."