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At-risk groups should get monkeypox vaccine, says panel

June 10, 2022

Germany has recorded more than 100 monkeypox infections so far. Now the country's independent vaccine advisory body is recommending shots for people exposed to the virus.

A vaccine pass picture with a syringe and a vial
Germany's vaccine panel recommended jabs against monkeypox for those who could be at-riskImage: Michael Bihlmayer/CHROMORANGE/picture allianc

Germany's Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) said Thursday that people over 18 who have been exposed to or are at increased risk of monkeypox infection should be inoculated.

The vaccine advisory body recommended Bavarian Nordic's Imvanex smallpox shot. The panel added that due to its limited supply, the vaccine should be made available first to people who were exposed to the virus in the last 14 days.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that belongs to the same virus family as smallpox. But in the last month, nearly 20 countries around the world where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the virus.

How concerned is Germany about monkeypox?

Dosage depends on vaccination status 

The STIKO panel's draft recommendation must go through a feedback procedure with Germany's 16 states as well as experts before it becomes final. Its recommendations are not legally binding, but they are generally followed by German health authorities.

The body said those who should be vaccinated include adults who have had contact with an infected person and people considered high-risk.

The high-risk category includes men who have sex with changing male partners, but also staff in specialist laboratories who work with infectious samples that contain monkeypox.

STIKO said that proper vaccination with Imvanex involved two shots at least 28 days apart to people not previously vaccinated against smallpox and a single dose for those who have previously had a smallpox shot.

Health minister: Monkeypox 'not a new pandemic'

Monkeypox has long been endemic in parts of West and Central Africa. The disease's spread in Europe over the last month has raised alarm among health authorities, though they have also expressed confidence that it can be contained.

Germany registered its first case of the disease on May 19 and as of Wednesday, the country had recorded 113 cases. 

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said that the outbreak could be controlled with good contact tracing and assured the public that monkeypox would not become a new pandemic.

The World Health Organization has called the spread of monkeypox a "containable situation," with WHO official Rosamund Lewis saying there's no evidence that the virus has mutated. 

jcg/nm (Reuters, AP, dpa) 

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