PARIS (Reuters) — France’s HAS health authority on Friday recommended widening the vaccination campaign against monkeypox, saying that those most exposed to the risk of contracting the virus through sexual relations should receive an innocculation.
“Men who have sexual relationships with other men and trans people who have multiple sexual partners” should be vaccinated, the HAS said, as well as well as people engaged in prostitution or otherwise working in “sexual consumption areas”.
Up until now, the HAS had only recommended “reactive” vaccination, saying that as soon as a confirmed case of monkeypox has been discovered, a vaccination should be given to adults who have been in contact with the patient.
But in view of the spread of the Monkeypox virus and the difficulties in tracing the contacts of infected persons, the HAS now recommend preventive vaccination for some groups it says are at special risk.
The viral disease, which causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, does not spread nearly as easily as COVID and there are vaccines and treatments available.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization reported two new deaths, bringing the total to three since the start of the year and said the disease had spread to new areas.
Data from the French health administration showed that 97% of monkeypox cases concerned gay men, 75% of which had declared having had relations with several men in the weeks preceding their symptoms, the HAS said.
In its press release, the health body did not provide any data on the other groups targeted by its recommendations, but said that contact tracing was particulary difficult “around anonymous sexual relations”.
Vaccination “can be considered on a case-by-case basis for professionals who have to deal with sick people”, the authority said, but added it did not recommend at this stage a general vaccination campaign for medical staff.
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel, Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Toby Chopra)