More monkeypox vaccine doses available in Ireland under updated strategy

Using the new injection technique, it is expected that the number of doses available in the country will increase five-fold.

Doctor preparing a dose of the monkeypox vaccine.
Image: Unsplash

On Thursday, August 25, the Department of Health announced that new recommendations in relation to Ireland’s monkeypox vaccine strategy have been accepted, which will allow for a significant increase in the number of doses available.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recently issued updated advice regarding the intradermal use of monkeypox vaccines. These recommendations were considered by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and passed along to the interim Chief Medical Officer (iCMO) Professor Breda Smyth who endorsed them.

The NIAC is aligning with the EMA in recommending that Ireland’s monkeypox vaccine be administered in lower quantities intradermally (between the layers of the skin) as a two-dose regimen 28 days apart. This is a temporary measure while the supply of the jab remains low, and the NIAC also recommends that appropriate research be conducted surrounding the lower doses’ efficacy and life cycle.

Under the HSE’s original rollout plan which was unveiled last week, just 600 people were expected to receive doses of the monkeypox vaccine in the first phase. Using the new injection technique, it is expected that the number of doses available will increase five-fold. 

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly welcomed the updated strategy and thanked the NIAC for “their swift review of the latest evidence”. Professor Smyth added to this, saying, “Today is an important day as we continue to vaccinate those most at risk from monkeypox infection.”

The number of infected persons continues to rise in Ireland, with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) stating on Wednesday, August 24, that it has been notified of 126 confirmed cases in the country. The virus is disproportionately affecting gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM), and community members are being advised to carry out risk reduction behaviours in order to protect themselves against the spread.

Globally, there have been over 45,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox relating to the current outbreak in non-endemic countries. However, at present, the number of hospitalisations and fatalities thankfully remains low.

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