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Thailand to receive first batch of monkeypox vaccine this month

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Thai health officials say the first lot of monkeypox vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the kingdom later this month. However, the Department of Disease Control is unsure who should be first in line for inoculation once the 1,000 doses arrive. DDC chief Dr Opas Karnkawinpong says he believes the priority should be bisexual men and those with compromised immune systems.

“We are debating who should get the vaccine (first). It should be provided to bisexual men or people living with low immunity. Monkeypox is a very sensitive issue. We are not sure if (bisexual men) will come to get the vaccine.”

The current Monkeypox outbreak, the fourth outside of Central Africa this century, has been largely limited to the men-who-have-sex-with-men community, although the virus can be spread to any humans. Whilst infectious, Monkeypox is less infectious than, say, Covid-19 and primarily spread through close contact, rather than as a respiratory disease.

According to a Bangkok Post report, the monkeypox vaccine is derived from a third-generation smallpox vaccine. Dr. Opas says the first batch of vaccine doses will serve 500 people and officials from the DDC’s academic committee will have the final say in who gets priority. However, he points out that the infection rate of monkeypox is very low and symptoms are not usually severe, although they can be dangerous for children. As a result, not everyone needs to be vaccinated, particularly as the vaccine’s own side-effects may be, rarely, severe.

Many people over the age of around 55, who were vaccinated with Smallpox vaccine routinely before 1981 when Smallpox was considered ‘eradicated’ around the world, are considered safe from Monkeypox infection as the Smallpox vaccine is extremely effective against Monkeypox as well.

Thai health officials are also proposing that provinces with a high level of foreign arrivals from European and African countries set up a system for monkeypox screening and reporting, as well as advising people to avoid having unprotected sex.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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