Experts explain recommendations for monkeypox vaccine

PEMBROKE PARK, Florida. – The spread of the monkeypox virus has many wondering what vaccine protects against infection.

There are two vaccines available to treat monkeypox.

One was originally developed for smallpox, but offers protection against monkeypox, and there is a new vaccine specifically against monkeypox, which is the one used locally.

“It’s a live, non-replicating vaccine, so it’s a little different from the COVID vaccines we’ve dealt with,” said Dr. Patrick Kenney, an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Weston.

The vaccine creates an immune response by exposing the patient to the virus itself, but in such a way that it cannot reproduce and cause infection, with few exceptions.

“There are few contraindications to this vaccine, one being that you have an immune deficiency, that is, you have an acquired immune deficiency, for example from the HIV virus or if you have a inherent immune deficiency or if you are taking immunosuppressive drugs such as chemotherapy or medication for an autoimmune disease,” Kenney said.

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Infectious disease experts agree the vaccine is very safe for immunocompetent people, but is not currently recommended for the general public, only for those most at risk of infection.

Kenney said that includes those who have come into contact with infected people and, in this current outbreak, men who have sex with men.

“In this community in Broward County, there’s been a push to vaccinate these people, there’s also been a push to vaccinate the healthcare workers and the labs that handle the samples,” Kenney said.

The vaccine is also not indicated for people allergic to any of the ingredients.

Side effects from the vaccine are typical: pain at the injection site, mild fever, generalized muscle aches and fatigue, which Kenney says are attributed to the immune response.

Kenney said unlike COVID, this virus is spread through direct contact, and no one has died from this outbreak, but monkeypox can lead to other issues like pneumonia and infections, which can be fatal independently.

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