Italy launches monkeypox vaccination campaign


ROME, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Italy kicked off its monkeypox vaccination campaign on Monday as the number of cases surged at a time when health authorities are reporting vaccine shortages around the world.

Italy has reported 545 cases of monkeypox, according to the health ministry. Its vaccination campaign began more than a month after other countries that have seen higher numbers of cases, including the United States, Britain and Spain.

The first doses will be administered at Spallanzani Hospital in Rome, the hospital said in a statement.

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Vaccines and treatments have been scarce, and the disease has often been taken care of by historically underfunded sexual health clinics. Read more

Spallanzani said he already has 200 people who will be vaccinated starting Monday, as well as 600 booking requests.

The vaccine used will be Jynneos (MVA-BN), a smallpox vaccine manufactured by Bavarian Nordic and approved by the European Medicines Agency for protection against monkeypox, the hospital said.

On Thursday, vaccinations will also begin in Italy’s financial capital, Milan.

The virus continues to be widely transmitted among gay and bisexual men in the current outbreak spreading outside endemic countries, which began in May. Monkeypox is spread primarily by close contact, causes pus-filled sores and flu-like symptoms, and is rarely fatal. There are now 26,500 cases worldwide outside the countries where it usually spreads, according to a Reuters tracker. Read more

In July, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern”, its highest alert level. Read more

Following the WHO decision, the United States – which now has the most cases in the world – also declared monkeypox a public health emergency on August 4.

Italy’s health ministry said gay, bisexual and transgender men who have recently had sex with multiple partners, recently had a sexually transmitted infection or use chemical drugs during sex, would be eligible for the vaccine. Hospital staff treating cases of monkeypox are also eligible.

The first case in Italy was recorded on May 20, 2022. There is currently no mass vaccination plan.

The Lazio region surrounding Rome received 1,200 doses of the vaccine, while Lombardy received 2,000, Emilia-Romagna received 600 and Veneto surrounding Venice received 400.

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Reporting by Emily Roe and Emilio Parodi, editing by David Evans

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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