Monkeypox vaccine will be offered to hundreds of high-risk people
The HSE has announced that people at high risk of contracting monkeypox will be offered a vaccine in the coming weeks.
They are expanding the vaccination process and implementing the most recent advice from the National Immunization Advisory Committee (NIAC), which is to vaccinate those at risk before they are exposed to the virus.
They sought the advice and guidance of clinical and ethical experts to develop a plan for the initial offering of the limited supply of vaccines currently available.
The HSE has also engaged closely over the past few weeks with advocacy and support groups to solicit their input into the plan.
It is estimated that approximately 6,000 people may be at increased risk of monkeypox infection.
They said current vaccine supplies will allow about 10% of those people to be vaccinated during the first phase of the vaccine rollout.
The HSE has developed a process for prioritizing people for vaccination. Currently, vaccine stocks in Ireland and the EU are low and limited.
Ireland, along with other EU countries, is actively exploring options to increase its vaccine supply in the medium to long term.
They said that based on current indications for the global vaccine supply, the second phase of vaccine rollout in Ireland is expected to start later this year and next year.
The HSE is currently offering the vaccine to those who are in close contact with cases of monkeypox following an assessment by public health and these people have been contacted and advised to be vaccinated.
Given the current limited vaccine supply, the HSE will prioritize the vaccine for gbMSM and transgender people who have received a notification to the HSE’s infectious disease surveillance system, known as CIDR, of syphilis early infectious disease (EIS) between December 2021 and July 2022.
The HSE regrets working closely with infectious disease and genitourinary medicine consultants and clinical teams at STI clinics across the country to quickly put in place a process to identify and call these people to vaccination.
In this first phase of the pre-exposure vaccination program, STI teams will offer approximately 600 people two doses of vaccine 28 days apart according to CANI guidelines.
Services will begin contacting these individuals directly in the coming days, and those identified are expected to receive the vaccine within the next few weeks. The confidentiality of these individuals will be protected.
In addition, the HSE will ensure that a supply of vaccines is maintained which will be available for intermediate and high risk contacts of a confirmed case.
They said the number of new cases of monkeypox in Ireland week after week is stable.