Monday March 20, 2023

Monkeypox vaccinations for gay men as THL expands target group

Published : 16 Feb 2023, 01:07

  DF Report
File Photo Xinhua.

The target group of monkeypox vaccinations has been expanded, said the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in a press release on Wednesday.

From now on, vaccinations are recommended for all men who have sex with men and have had several occasional sexual partners during the previous 6 months.

As before, vaccinations are recommended for all men who use HIV preventive PrEP medication and have sex with men, as well as for men who are waiting for PrEP treatment and have sex with men.

Close personal contacts of people who have been infected by monkeypox or exposed to it will also receive vaccinations as before.

The vaccination series for risk groups consists of two doses of the vaccine. The interval between the first and second doses is at least four weeks.

The wellbeing services counties will provide information on when vaccines are available and how vaccinations in their area are arranged. The vaccinations are free of charge for people in the target groups.

The number of monkeypox cases started growing in several countries in May 2022.

However, the number of monkeypox cases in Europe has decreased considerably during the autumn and winter. Recently, the number of new monkeypox diagnoses in Europe has been about ten per week. No new monkeypox cases have been diagnosed in Finland since October.

Monkeypox is not easily transmitted from person to person, and it is not typically transmitted in brief everyday contact. The risk that monkeypox would spread more widely in the population is very low.

In 2022 and 2023, most of the infections outside Africa have come through sexual contact.

Anyone can be infected, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that infections have been highest among men who have had sex with other men and have had new or several partners. Condoms, when used correctly, give protection against several different sexually transmitted diseases, but they do not give adequate protection against monkeypox.

Monkeypox is typically accompanied by a skin condition with papules or blisters for which there is no other explanation. Before the skin reacts, other typical symptoms of infection may appear, such as fever or headache.

Treatment of monkeypox is symptomatic, and the disease usually goes away on its own in a few weeks. Serious forms of the disease usually occur among patients whose immune defences have been weakened by other illnesses or by medical treatment.