‘Breakthrough moment’: Monkeypox vaccine secured

Filip Vukasin

4/08/2022 8:36:17 PM

The Federal Government has procured 450,000 doses of the MPX vaccine, with the first shipments due to arrive shortly.

Man with monkeypox
There have been relatively few monkeypox cases in Australia so far compared to some countries.

The Federal Government today announced it has secured almost half a million monkeypox (MPX) vaccines, with 22,000 set to land in Australia later this week.
With the remainder due to arrive later in the year and in 2023 for populations more at risk of transmission, the vaccines will be available through general practice clinics and medical centres.
RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements welcomed the news.
‘This is a breakthrough moment in the fight against monkeypox virus,’ he said.
‘By rolling out this vaccine we can limit community transmission and stop the virus taking hold.’
Monkeypox was declared a disease of ‘national significance’ in late July, after the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency on 23 July.
In response to the evolving monkeypox situation, ASHM and AFAO are forming a National MPX Taskforce, aimed at providing leadership and policy advice on community engagement, clinical management, education and prevention.
The Government’s procurement of MPX vaccines has been warmly welcomed by both the AFAO and ASHM.
‘The swift procurement of these vaccines is a very positive step,’ Heath Paynter, acting CEO of AFAO, said.
‘While local transmission of monkeypox has so far been limited, we can’t rely on that to continue. Cities such as London, Montreal, Lisbon and Madrid are all dealing with significant community transmission.
‘The availability of MPX vaccine for people who need it is a critical forward defence against transmission. It will help people look after their own health as well as that of people they are intimate with.
‘Gay and bisexual men are already taking monkeypox very seriously, monitoring for symptoms and regularly seeking medical advice. This is a very welcome additional tool.’
All but two of the 58 reported cases in Australia have been among travellers returning from overseas. Gay and bisexual men are at most risk of MPX, although it is not a sexually transmitted infection.
Dr Clements says it is also ‘critical’ that people who contract the virus are not stigmatised.
‘Please remember that anyone can contract monkeypox,’ he said.
‘We need to deal with [it] without stigma or unhelpful commentary.’
Monkeypox can present with rash and flu-like symptoms and in most cases, resolves within 2–4 weeks without the need for specific treatments.
The rash can vary from person to person and take on the appearance of pimples, blisters or sores, especially on the genital and perianal regions of affected people. It can also occur on the face before spreading to other parts of the body, including the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
Alexis Apostolellis, CEO of ASHM, said that Australia’s clinical workforce has ‘learned a lot’ over the past two months about how to detect, treat and prevent monkeypox, and ‘vaccination is the critical next step’.
Dr Nick Medland, ASHM President, sexual health specialist and researcher at the Kirby Institute said the MPX vaccines will play an important part in slowing transmission.
‘We expect the outbreak will begin to slow after 75,000 members of our community have had one dose of the vaccine and may not be eliminated until 250,000 doses have been administered to those who need them most,’ he said.
‘We’re working closely with affected communities to ensure the health system is ready to deliver a safe and equitable vaccine rollout.
‘We know from COVID-19 and from HIV that our responses to infectious diseases are only effective when clinicians work hand-in-hand with the people most affected.’
Clinical guidance on vaccination against MPX is available from ATAGI.
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