For infected and risk groups: Great Britain vaccinates against monkeypox

The UK is alarmed: the monkeypox virus seems to be spreading further on the island.

For infected and risk groups: Great Britain vaccinates against monkeypox

The UK is alarmed: the monkeypox virus seems to be spreading further on the island. Vaccination with a smallpox agent should help. According to the health authority, the injection is administered four to five days after the onset of symptoms.

Monkeypox infections are on the rise in the UK. "We are discovering more cases every day," UKHSA senior medical adviser Susan Hopkins told the BBC. According to her, the rare viral disease is now spreading in Great Britain without being connected to West or Central Africa, where it is native.

According to Hopkins, infected people could be vaccinated with a smallpox vaccine. "We use it in people who we believe are at high risk of developing severe symptoms," said the UKHSA chief. "We use it early, specifically within four or five days after symptoms have developed." This prevents the risk of illness for contact persons.

According to Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi, the British government had already started buying up stocks of smallpox vaccine a few days ago. "We take it very, very seriously," he told the BBC. The UKHSA recommends people suspected of being infected to isolate themselves for 21 days. The official recommendation applies to anyone who has had direct or domestic contact with a confirmed case. Contact persons are also advised to make their data available for contact tracing, to refrain from traveling and to avoid contact with immunocompromised people, pregnant women and children under the age of twelve.

A total of 20 cases of monkeypox have been recorded in the UK in the past few weeks. Even if the smallpox vaccine is not specifically tailored to the monkeypox virus, it should offer some protection - especially against more serious diseases. Routine vaccination against smallpox in Britain was phased out in the 1970s, according to the BBC, when the disease was declared eradicated in the country.

Most recently, cases had been found in several other countries such as Spain, France, Sweden, Australia and the USA, and Germany had already reported the first evidence. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls for a rigorous follow-up of all contacts of those affected. Clinics and the population would have to be made aware of the symptoms. According to the WHO, a vaccination recommendation only applies to certain risk groups such as laboratory staff and certain first responders. However, this will be checked in a timely manner, it said on request. A new vaccine against smallpox and monkeypox has also been approved but is not yet widely available beyond national reserves.


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