Spain will strart vaccinating close contacts of confirmed monkeypox cases after more than 242 people have tested positive for the virus since 19 May, the country’s health ministry announced on Thursday.
Due to a short supply of vaccines, however, only those who have been in close contact or have a greater risk of serious illness can get vaccinated, the ministry added in a statement.
‘In light of the limited availability of the vaccine, we will prioritise it for contact persons,’ the health authorities said. They added that there would be no preventative vaccinations, but didn’t rule out such an approach should the situation change.
Around 200 of Bavarian Nordic’s Imvanex vaccine arrived in Spain on Monday and the government is waiting to buy more under an EU vaccine purchasing scheme.
The Denmark-based company had said on 19 May that it secured a contract from an ‘undisclosed European country’ to supply Imvanex. It has since announced contracts with further countries.
More than 1,200 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in around 30 countries where the disease is not endemic, most of them in Europe. Spain’s tally of infections rose by nine on Thursday.
Monkeypox is a rare, but serious disease, which is endemic in Central and West Africa. The disease is quite similar to human smallpox, although it is less severe with an estimated fatality rate of 1-10%.
Spanish health officials on Thursday also urged people aged 80 and over to start planning to receive a fourth round of the Coronavirus vaccine in the near future. Click here for all our reports on: Coronavirus in Spain