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Monkeypox: Dr Ashley Bloomfield says campaign to get vaccine 'productive', but work still continues
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Monkeypox: Dr Ashley Bloomfield says campaign to get vaccine 'productive', but work still continues

19/07/2022 Rachel Sadler

The campaign for New Zealand to get a monkeypox vaccine is "productive" and work is continuing to secure one for Kiwis.

While there is no vaccine specifically for monkeypox, some smallpox vaccines can give protection against the virus, the Ministry of Health said.

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In an update on Tuesday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said Pharmac is working actively with a single vaccine manufacturer to get one of the third-generation smallpox vaccines.

But there wasn't a big update he could give on where in the process New Zealand is with getting this vaccine.

"Why don't we aim to have an update either later this week or next on just how that discussion is going - I'm just not au fait with where that is, but it's productive," Dr Bloomfield said.

He also reiterated that there are two cases of monkeypox in New Zealand, which were both announced earlier in July.

Dr Bloomfield said there is no evidence of community transmission of monkeypox at this point.

It comes as France's Haute Autorité de santé (HAS) - or French National Authority for Health - recommends widening the vaccination campaign against monkeypox, saying that those most exposed to the risk of contracting the virus should receive an inoculation.

Monkeypox spreads person-to-person and may happen through close physical contact with an infected person, contact with clothing or linens used by someone with monkeypox, direct contact with the skin lesions or scabs the virus produces, or respiratory droplets from someone infected with monkeypox.

The HAS previously only recommended a "reactive" vaccination targeting people who were in contact with the infected person. But now they've said there should be a preventative vaccine for some people who are at special risk.

They said its data showed that 97 percent of monkeypox cases involved gay men, 75 percent of which had declared having had relations with several men in the weeks before their symptoms.

HAS didn't give any other data on other groups it wants targeted in its recommendations, but said that contact tracing was particularly difficult "around anonymous sexual relations".

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