WHO recommends against mass vaccinations for monkeypox

WHO Monkeypox
Posted at 8:24 AM, Jun 14, 2022

Despite recent cases of monkeypox throughout the globe, the World Health Organization said Tuesday it is recommending against mass vaccinations for the disease "at this time."

The guidance comes as the WHO debates using smallpox vaccines as a way to prevent the spread of monkeypox.

"While smallpox vaccines are expected to provide some protection against monkeypox, there is limited clinical data, and limited supply," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO.

Instead, the WHO is recommending targeted vaccinations for those at high risk of contracting the virus and those who have been exposed to it.

In guidance issued Tuesday by the WHO, the organization is recommending those who are exposed to the virus should get vaccinated within four days of first exposure to prevent onset of the disease.

The WHO recommends vaccines for health workers at risk, laboratory personnel working with orthopoxviruses, clinical laboratory staff performing diagnostic testing for monkeypox and others who may be at risk as per national policy.

"Any decision about whether to use vaccines should be made jointly by individuals who may be at risk and their health care provider, based on an assessment of risks and benefits, on a case-by-case basis,” said Tedros. 

Tedros said there have been 1,600 cases of monkeypox reported worldwide. The virus has been detected in more than three dozen countries, including 32 that are newly affected.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk of monkeypox to the public is low but you should avoid contact with others if you develop an unexplained skin rash.

Typical symptoms of monkeypox include a rash, fever, malaise, headache and muscle aches.