Although mass vaccination for Monkeypox is not recommended, those who have been exposed to the disease should be immunised within 4 days of the first contact. Pre-exposure vaccination is being considered for 5 target groups, but it should not be administered within 4 weeks of receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Hong Kong government’s healthcare advisers have suggested a Monkeypox prevention strategy in which certain groups of people, such as animal care workers and lab personnel, would be vaccinated prior to exposure to the disease.

Following an online meeting on Thursday, experts from the two scientific committees of the Centre for Health Protection agreed that mass vaccination for Monkeypox was not recommended. The panel also advised against using 1st- or 2nd-generation smallpox vaccines to protect against monkeypox.

According to the Department of Health, “specialists recognised that Hong Kong has still not identified any confirmed Monkeypox infection case.” “However, both non-endemic and endemic countries have reported confirmed human cases of Monkeypox, and the virus is spreading.”

Second- and third-generation smallpox vaccines are now available on the international market to protect against Monkeypox.

Experts advise people who have been exposed to Monkeypox to get vaccinated within 4 days of first contact, or within 14 days if no symptoms appear.

They went on to say that pre-exposure vaccination could be considered for 5 specific groups: healthcare workers caring for Monkeypox patients, laboratory personnel required to work with zoonotic pox viruses, environmental decontamination personnel, animal care employees at high risk of exposure,  and other high-risk communities where transmission chains have been discovered.

The number of doses required, dose intervals, and potential side effects of using Monkeypox vaccines, according to the experts, would be subject to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Despite officials’ previous statements that they were preparing to purchase medicines and vaccines to treat the disease, no detailed procurement plan or vaccination schedule for the prioritised groups has been announced.

As of June 8, the World Health Organization reported 72 deaths, 59 confirmed cases and 1536 suspected cases, from eight countries.

Monkeypox was added to the list of statutory notifiable diseases in Hong Kong last week, along with a response plan to combat the infection. Any confirmed or suspected case of Monkeypox must be reported to the Centre for Health Protection.

Because the viruses that cause Monkeypox and smallpox are so similar, a smallpox vaccine provides cross-protection against Monkeypox. Earlier research in Africa recommended that the smallpox vaccine has been at least 85% effective in preventing Monkeypox.

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