NSW to start rolling out first monkeypox vaccine doses

monkeypox vaccine injection stock photo
Stock photo. Image: Steven Cornfield/Unsplash

People at highest risk from monkeypox in New South Wales will begin to get access to the first 5,500 vaccine doses from Monday (August 8).

Since May, the virus has spread in over 70 non-endemic countries globally. Cases have climbed to the tens of thousands in the northern hemisphere.

While monkeypox usually causes a mild illness in most people, some are at higher risk of serious disease, including the immunosuppressed.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler has announced Australia has secured 450,000 vaccine doses. The first 22,000 arrive this week.

The two-dose Jynneos vaccine is designed to prevent transmission and can also be used as a post-exposure treatment.

Since May, 58 cases of the virus have been reported in Australia, including 33 in New South Wales.

All Australian cases are gay and bisexual men who have sex with men, though authorities stress anyone is susceptible through physical contact.

All but two Australian monkeypox cases are returning travellers from overseas, the federal government has said.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised close contacts, some gay and bisexual men, people who are immunocompromised, sex workers and health workers be prioritised for vaccination.

ACON urges patience as first doses of monkeypox vaccination rolled out in NSW

From Monday, NSW Health, ACON and other organisations will work together to distribute the first 5,500 doses to those at highest risk.

ACON Acting CEO Karen Price said more details will be released in the coming days, including who is eligible and how people can register interest.

She urged patience as the doses are distributed.

“We know that there is a lot of concern about MPXV, particularly as we see case numbers rise overseas,” Price said.

“So far, we are fortunate that Australia has not seen a rapid spread of the virus. However case numbers are extremely likely to increase. That’s why access to this vaccine is imperative.

“If we can reach people most at risk of contracting MPXV, we can help safeguard the health and wellbeing of vulnerable community members and prevent an outbreak of MPXV in NSW and Australia.”

However Price added, “We acknowledge not everyone in our communities who wants a vaccine will be able to access it initially.

“As supply improves in the coming months, vaccines will become more available.”

ACON reports a further 30,000 doses are expected at the end of September, and then 70,000 more in early 2023.

“We would ask people to continue to be patient as NSW Health and community organisations work through vaccine distribution,” Price said.

Returning travellers urged to remain vigilant

In the meantime, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged people to remain vigilant and continue monitoring for symptoms.

“We urge people to look out for symptoms, especially those who have recently travelled overseas in UK, Europe and North America,” she said.

“If you develop any symptoms, particularly an unusual rash, lesions or sores, please call ahead to your GP or local sexual health clinic.

“It is important to wear a mask when attending the clinic.”

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Monkeypox spreads through close skin-to-skin physical contact with someone who has symptoms.

This includes intimate contact during sex, or direct contact with contaminated objects, such as bedding, towels or clothes.

Monkeypox symptoms can range from mild to very painful. Some gay men overseas have candidly shared their experiences with severe symptoms of monkeypox.

The symptoms include rashes, lesions or sores on the body, including on the genitals, face and mouth.

Flu-like symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and/or exhaustion.

Symptoms will usually develop up to two weeks from exposure, but can take up to three weeks, according to NSW Health.

Returning travellers should limit sexual partners in that time and maintain a list of people they’ve had sexual contact with.

People who contract monkeypox must isolate until the sores fully clear, which can be up to 21 days.

First case found in Western Australia

On Thursday, Western Australia reported its first monkeypox case in Perth. The overseas traveller is now isolating.

The Australian government said more monkeypox vaccine doses will arrive by the end of September, followed by more early next year.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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1 Comment

  1. Paul
    6 August 2022

    Long Overdue! Gee whiz it took long enough.

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