Rollout of NSW’s monkeypox vaccine begins by targeting those most at risk

Those most at risk of contracting monkeypox will receive the first doses of the vaccine at the start of NSW’s rollout, in what has been described as a ‘watershed moment’.

NSW Health will from today provide 5,500 doses of the JYNNEOS smallpox vaccine to targeted groups deemed most vulnerable if the virus becomes endemic.

More than 30 cases have now been confirmed in NSW, with the majority detected overseas.

In July Australia’s Chief Medical Officer declared the spread of monkeypox a “communicable disease incident of national significance”.

Men who have sex with men are thought to be most at risk of contracting monkeypox, which is spread through skin-to-skin contact.

Gay men, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men who are homeless, sex workers, or have significant drug problems that impair their judgment are among the specific groups to receive the first doses.

Others include those who are HIV-positive, immunocompromised, or undergoing post-exposure prophylaxis for close contacts.

A small number of people who booked travel in the US, UK and North America before October 31 are also eligible.

The rollout will expand once an additional 30,000 doses arrive next month. Authorities have secured an additional 70,000 vaccines for next year.

a man wearing glasses talking and gesturing with his hands
Dr Jeremy McAnulty says there is a growing demand for vaccines around the world.(PA: Joel Carrett )

NSW Health director of health protection Jeremy McAnulty said the virus was spreading rapidly to other countries.

“Most people are not at risk of monkeypox,” he said. “To get infected, you usually need close skin-to-skin contact.

“And those most at risk are men who have sex with men.

“We are particularly concerned that men who have sex with men are protected.”

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