The HSE is to issue advice on vaccination to groups who are most at risk from contracting monkeypox in the coming weeks, the head of Ireland’s national immunisation programmes has said.
It follows on from calls made on Thursday to speed up the rollout of the smallpox vaccine to at-risk groups, after health authorities confirmed a further 12 cases of monkeypox, bringing the total cases confirmed to 97.
The Irish government last week accepted the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) advice to offer the smallpox vaccine to groups who are at high-risk of contracting monkeypox, including gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, as well as other people at high risk of exposure.
The HSE has been offering vaccines to close contacts of people who are confirmed to have monkeypox.
In terms of the risk to the broader population, that risk is very low, so it isn’t a vaccine programme that will be offered more widely than that
Lucy Jessop, who is the director of the HSE’s National Immunisation Office, told RTE Radio that they were still working on the rollout to high-risk groups, including how to identify who is most at risk.
“For a while now we’ve been working with various community partners like Man2Man… to develop a communications campaign and that has been ongoing for some time, to raise awareness in the community about the symptoms, the importance of presenting to healthcare early, and effective advice on prevention of monkeypox.
“We would like to have information out in the next few weeks,” she said of the information campaign.
Ms Jessop added that they had not yet worked out whether at-risk individuals will be directly contacted or whether they would have to respond individually to any public cam