Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus that has been circulating in Europe for several months. On 23 July 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
The strategy to reduce human-to-human transmission of monkeypox is based on the following measures:
- Early detection of possible cases through contact tracing;
- Early identification of cases by specialist assessment and diagnostic confirmation by PCR;
- Isolation of infected patients;
- Implementation of infection prevention and control measures in the health care sector;
- Vaccination of persons at risk.
Following the recommendations of the High Council for Infectious Diseases (Conseil supérieur des maladies infectieuses - CSMI) on monkeypox, vaccination against this infection can be offered as soon as the vaccine is available in Luxembourg. The first monkeypox vaccines ordered through the European agency HERA will be delivered during August.
Monkeypox vaccination - why?
People with monkeypox usually recover within 2-4 weeks. However, complications such as bacterial superinfections, eye damage, or central nervous system damage have been described. In particular, young children, pregnant women, and people with immune deficiencies can be severely affected by monkeypox. Health care workers are also at greater risk of infection if they have direct and frequent contact with patients. Vaccination is therefore important, both to protect oneself and those around them, and to relieve our health care system.
Vaccination against monkeypox - for whom?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiological assessment, the probability of virus dissemination is considered high among people with multiple partners. The predominance of cases identified in the current epidemic is among men who have sex with men, therefore particular attention is paid to this group, as recommended by the WHO.
The High Council of Infectious Diseases currently recommends vaccination against monkeypox:
To prevent infection:
- In men who have sex with men reporting multiple sexual partners,
- In transgender persons reporting multiple sexual partners,
- In sex workers.
After exposure to the virus (between 1 and 14 days after exposure):
- immunocompromised persons who have had high-risk contact (sexual contact, contact with skin lesions or mucous membranes of an infected person, contact within the same household) within the previous 21 days,
- caregivers who have not applied appropriate personal protective measures.
Vaccination following exposure to the virus through close contact with an infected person is recommended between 1 and 14 days after contact, as early vaccination provides better protection:
- if vaccination is given within 4 days of contact, infection can be prevented,
- if vaccination is given within 14 days, the disease can be mitigated.
There is no specific vaccine against monkeypox authorised in the EU. However, due to the similarity of the viruses, vaccines developed to protect against smallpox also protect against monkeypox. The vaccine is licensed for use in adults from the age of 18.
The vaccination schedule
Primary vaccination requires two doses at 28-day intervals and a third dose in an immunocompromised person. A delay of at least 28 days between the 2 doses of vaccine is important to ensure high vaccine efficacy.
Vaccination against monkeypox - how?
Vaccination against monkeypox is carried out by the national service for infectious diseases (Service national des maladies infectieuses) at the Centre hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL).
More information on how to get vaccinated will be provided once the vaccine has been delivered to Luxembourg.
The Ministry of Health has set up a section dedicated to monkeypox on the sante.lu website, where you will find more information: www.variole-singe.lu.
Press release by the Ministry of Health