News National Monkeypox vaccines to be rolled out as cases climb
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Monkeypox vaccines to be rolled out as cases climb

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The federal government has ordered more than 400,000 monkeypox jabs to try to contain the expanding outbreak.

Health Minister Mark Butler announced on Thursday the government had signed an agreement with Bavarian Nordic to secure 450,000 doses, with 22,000 due to arrive in Australia as soon as this week.

Chief medical officer Paul Kelly said the first shots could be given as early as next week.

The remainder of the doses will arrive later this year and into 2023.

The vaccine is a new generation of immunisation, compared to the smallpox jab that is also used to protect against monkeypox.

Mr Butler said the vaccine can be used to prevent transmission of the monkeypox virus, but also as a post-exposure treatment.

“This vaccine is far more effective and certainly more user friendly for patients which may have compromised immunity,” he said.

He said Australia was one of only a few countries to secure supplies of the vaccine.

Professor Kelly said monkeypox could adversely affect immunocompromised people, children, and pregnant women.

“If it gets into those populations, it can be quite severe,” he said.

“That’s why we’re taking the steps we’re taking and the vaccines will really help with that.”

In the 13 weeks since the monkeypox outbreak was first reported, the US Centres for Disease Control says 25,000 infections have been reported in 76 countries outside the diseases normal endemic areas. They include 58 cases in Australia.

Asked if Australia’s monkeypox infections were expected to continue to increase, Professor Kelly said health authorities had been preparing for the virus since May.

“All the work done since May … and the added benefit of the vaccine will continue to help us to control the epidemic here in Australia and I’m very confident that will happen.”

Mr Butler said the vaccine would mostly be available through state and territory sexual health clinics.

The government will also roll out training for clinicians and a community engagement program.

– with AAP