Monkey pox: vaccination possible after high-risk contact
Starting next week, carers and persons who have had an unprotected high-risk contact with an infected person can get vaccinated against monkey pox, preferably within four days of the contact. Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit), minister of Health, said this on Thursday. Those who think they are eligible for vaccination are advised to contact their family doctor, who can consult one of the nine reference centres in our country.
Belgium already had 200 doses of Imvanex from the Danish company Bavarias Nordic. This vaccine is authorised in the European Union against classical smallpox, but can also be used against monkey pox. Earlier in the day, it was announced that our country had received 3,040 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, the American version of the Imvanex vaccine.
"Due to the limited number of vaccines and the current uncertainty regarding additional deliveries, this vaccination is taking place under strict conditions", minister Vandenbroucke emphasised.
It concerns healthcare personnel after a high-risk contact without protection, immunocompromised persons (such as an infected family member or sharing clothes with a patient with a rash) and persons after a high-risk contact (such as sexual contact or prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person with a rash or a wound).
The vaccine should preferably be administered into the upper arm within four days of exposure. Persons who have been vaccinated against classical smallpox will normally not be vaccinated again, unless they have an immune disorder. Those who have not been vaccinated against classical smallpox should receive a second dose at least 28 days apart.
Nine reference centres
The vaccines are administered in nine reference centres in our country. If you think you have had a high-risk contact, you should contact your family doctor or the doctor treating you, who will then consult with the reference centre as to whether vaccination is advisable.
Since the beginning of May 2022, cases of monkey pox have been reported in Belgium, but also abroad, infections which are not linked to a journey to West or Central Africa, where the virus circulates more frequently. As of July 5, Sciensano counted 168 confirmed cases in Belgium: 92 in Flanders, 64 in Brussels and 13 in Wallonia. They are all men between 20 and 62 years old.
The virus usually causes fever and typical skin lesions, similar to chicken pox. The lesions can occur anywhere on the body, including the face and the palms of the hands. Most cases are mild and do not cause serious illness in healthy adults. The symptoms usually disappear spontaneously within two to four weeks.
© AFP PHOTO ALAIN JOCARD