Vaccination against monkeypox begins now
28,000 cases of monkeypox infection have been registered globally. On Monday 8 August, vaccination begins in Norway.
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Vaccination against monkeypox has already started in several places in Europe. Monday also starts in Norway. The vaccine doses come from a Norwegian emergency stockpile of smallpox vaccines. In addition, Norway is expected to receive further 1400 vaccine doses.
There is no separate vaccine for monkeypox. The vaccines that are now being used are regular smallpox vaccines. That’s what Geir Bukholm, assistant director of the Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI), tells Aftenposten.
– Vaccination against smallpox was stopped in 1976, so those who were vaccinated before this probably still have some protection.
At the same time, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health wants monkeypox to be designated “publicly dangerous infectious disease” in accordance with the Swedish Infection Control Act. According to FHI, this is to ensure patients with monkeypox important rights such as free consultation, testing and treatment.
So far it has been registered 65 cases of infection of monkeypox in Norway. Globally, there are 28,000. This summer, the number of infections has increased in both the USA and Europe. But will we also see an increase in Norway in the future?
– It is possible that we will see a small increase after the holidays, because people bring it with them from holidays in Europe. But we do not believe that there will be any large increase in the amount.
How dangerous are monkeypox?
The first cases of monkeypox were identified among people in 1970. According to FHI, most people will become infected and recover without treatment. Symptoms can be fatigue, fever and headache. Eventually, most people develop an itchy rash.
Geir Bukholm says monkeypox in its current form does not pose any particular threat to the general public.
– But the virus can adapt. If so, we will continuously assess what needs to be done, he says.
Some patients with monkeypox have been admitted to Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital. This is stated by communications director Tone Hærem. All have now been discharged.
Prioritize those who have had contact with the virus
In the past, there have been several cases of monkeypox among men who have sex with men. Of the 65 who have been diagnosed with monkeypox in Norway, all are men, figures from FHI show.
When the vaccine doses now arrive in Norway, priority will be given primarily to people who have been in contact with the virus. In addition, priority is given to certain groups. It will primarily be men who have sex with men and who practice unprotected sex, says Bukholm.
– Priority is given to those who have had contact with the virus, or have been confirmed infected. In addition to subgroups where there is particularly high infection activity.
He says that the vaccine is just one of several measures to overcome monkeypox.
– The most important thing is that we get good information about what the disease is like and how it spreads. We think that one of the most important measures is to take precautions in view of the fact that the disease spreads through close body contact.