Europe recommends smallpox vaccination for contacts of people infected with monkeypox

A monkeypox patient. / cdc / Reuters

The ECDC requests the administration of these doses "if smallpox vaccines are available in the country"

Alvaro Soto

Europe has asked member states to administer the smallpox vaccine to people who are close contacts of those infected. "If smallpox vaccines are available in the country, vaccination of high-risk close contacts should be considered after an assessment of risks and benefits," says the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in his briefing note on monkeypox.

“The protective effect of the smallpox vaccine against monkeypox infection has been demonstrated in studies conducted in the 1980s, which showed an efficacy of up to 85%. Early post-exposure vaccination with smallpox vaccine within 14 days of close contact exposure is an option to consider to reduce symptoms," explains the ECDC in a document for professionals.

Questions and answers about monkeypox

But with the smallpox vaccine there is a problem that there is not with other vaccines: not all countries have it available. In Spain it stopped being administered in the 1980s, forty years ago, when the disease was eradicated and its use has been restricted to national defense issues to deal with a bioterrorist attack with this virus. In 2003, faced with the possibility of international terrorist organizations developing the virus again in laboratories, the Ministries of Health and Defense jointly purchased two million smallpox vaccines. If there are vaccines in the countries, it will be because they have decided at some point to store them.

In addition to vaccines, the ECDC advocates that antivirals should also be used in severe cases, while suspected cases should be isolated, tested and reported quickly, in addition to contact tracing. "Public health and community-based organizations should take steps to increase awareness of the potential spread of monkeypox in groups of individuals who have sex with men (MSM), casual sex, or multiple partners. », says the European body.

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