Targeted monkeypox vaccine rollout to start Monday
NSW Health, with support from ACON, will commence a targeted vaccination program against monkeypox (MPXV) on Monday, 8 August.
There is significant global demand for this vaccine. NSW has received a limited supply from the Commonwealth Government. Because of this initially limited supply, vaccines will be offered in a phased approach with priority given to high-risk groups.
In the first phase, NSW Health will have 5500 doses available. A further 30,000 doses are expected at the end of September and 70,000 doses in early 2023.
The vaccine that will be offered to community members is the JYNNEOS smallpox vaccine, which is the latest vaccine available to provide protection against MPXV.
People at highest risk for MPXV are gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Over the coming days NSW Health will release further details about how access to the vaccine will be rolled out. ACON will provide this information to affected communities as more details come to hand.
Since May 2022, there has been an increase in cases of MPXV reported in multiple countries where MPXV is not usually seen — including Australia. So far, 33 cases have been identified in NSW with most acquiring the infection overseas. Two cases were acquired in Australia. As infection rates continue to climb overseas, NSW may see further cases of MPXV, including increases in local transmission.
Over the past several months, ACON has been working with NSW Health and community partners in raising awareness of MPXV in LGBTQ communities, including the development of resources on MPXV risk reduction, launching a health promotion campaign on MPXV prevention, and undertaking community engagement, advocacy and education efforts.
ACON Acting CEO Karen Price said: “We know that there is a lot of concern about MPXV, particularly as we see case numbers rise overseas. So far, we are fortunate that Australia has not seen a rapid spread of the virus; however, case numbers are extremely likely to increase. That’s why access to this vaccine is imperative — if we can reach people most at risk of contracting MPXV, we can help safeguard the health and wellbeing of vulnerable community members and prevent an outbreak of MPXV in NSW and Australia.
“We acknowledge not everyone in our communities who wants a vaccine will be able to access it initially. As supply improves in the coming months, vaccines will become more available. We are engaged in discussions and would ask people to continue to be patient as NSW Health and community organisations work through vaccine distribution,” Price said.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged people to remain vigilant and continue monitoring for symptoms.
“As we work through the vaccination program, it’s important people continue to be self-aware when it comes to their health and wellbeing. We urge people to look out for symptoms, especially those who have recently travelled overseas in UK, Europe and North America,” Chant said.
“If you develop any symptoms, particularly an unusual rash, lesions or sores, please call ahead to your GP or local sexual health clinic. It is important to wear a mask when attending the clinic. NSW Public Health Units will continue to investigate cases’ source of infection and trace at-risk contacts.”
Price added, “ACON will provide further updates to our communities as the situation evolves. Stay in touch with ACON to keep up to date with information on MPXV vaccines. In the meantime, let’s continue to take prevention measures that help us all stay safe such as understanding how MPXV is transmitted, reducing risk, practicing good hygiene, self-isolating when unwell and seeking medical attention when symptoms appear by calling your GP, local sexual health clinic or the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.”
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