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Monday, June 27, 2022

WHO issues Monkeypox vaccination advisory: Who and when you should get the jab?

Owing to the rising number of monkeypox cases across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued an advisory for the vaccination against the virus. It said, “the goal of the global outbreak response for monkeypox is to control the outbreak, and to effectively use strong public health measures to prevent onward spread of the disease.” Further noting that there is no need for mass vaccination, it added, “Judicious use of vaccines can support this response.”

WHO’s a guideline on monkeypox vaccination. Details here:

  • Mass vaccination is not required nor recommended for monkeypox at this time.
  • For contacts of cases, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is recommended with an appropriate second- or third-generation vaccine, ideally within four days of first exposure to prevent onset of disease.
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is recommended for health workers at risk, laboratory personnel working with orthopoxviruses, clinical laboratory staff performing diagnostic testing for monkeypox, and others who may be at risk as per national policy.
  • Vaccination programmes must be backed by thorough surveillance and contact-tracing, and accompanied by a strong information campaign, robust pharmacovigilance, ideally in the context of collaborative vaccine effectiveness studies with standardized protocols and data collection tools.
  • Decisions on use of smallpox or monkeypox vaccines should be based on a full assessment of risks and benefits on a case-by-case basis.

WHO considering name change for monkeypox

Meanwhile, WHO is weighing an official name change for monkeypox, in light of concerns about stigma and racism surrounding the virus.

More than 30 international scientists said last week that the monkeypox label is discriminatory and stigmatizing, and there’s an “urgent” need to rename it. The current name doesn’t fit with WHO guidelines that recommend avoiding geographic regions and animal names, a spokesperson said.

The proposal echoes a similar controversy that erupted when the WHO moved quickly to rename SARS-CoV-2 after people around the world referred to it as the China or Wuhan virus in the absence of an official designation. The actual animal source of monkeypox, which has been found in a wide variety of mammals, remains unknown.

“In the context of the current global outbreak, continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing,” the scientists’ group said in a letter online.

So far, 1,300 people have been detected with monkeypox virus in over two dozen countries. Scientists at the WHO and other institutions have pointed out that there’s been little international attention to the virus until it spread to countries outside Africa. Every monkeypox case “should be treated with the same attention and sense of urgency as the ones now in European countries and North America,” they asserted.

 

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