The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is today announcing plans to extend the use of the smallpox vaccine for individuals at high risk of monkeypox infection in Ireland.
It follows recommendations made on 22 July by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to the Interim Chief Medical Officer (CMO), who has endorsed these recommendations.
NIAC has recommended:
pre-exposure prophylactic vaccination should be offered to those at high risk of infection, for example: gay, bisexual, men who have sex with men (gbMSM) and others at high risk of unprotected exposure
2 doses of smallpox vaccine should be administered 28 days apart to as many high-risk individuals as soon as practicable
Minister Donnelly said:
“I welcome these recommendations which represent an important step in our ongoing response to the monkeypox outbreak and help protect those at high risk of exposure to monkeypox.
“Monkeypox is usually a self-limiting illness, and most people recover within a few weeks, however the rapid spread of infection necessitates further measures beyond those currently in place. The evidence suggests this approach to targeted pre-exposure prophylaxis may be highly efficient in controlling further spread of the disease.
“The Department of Health and the HSE will now work to implement these new recommendations in relation to vaccination.”
Interim CMO, Professor Breda Smyth said:
“These recommendations reflect a strengthening of measures to control disease transmission and ensures that our response to this evolving situation is informed by the best available evidence.
“I strongly encourage those with symptoms of infection to seek medical advice and follow the public health guidance.”