The Basque Country begins vaccinating against monkeypox to control the virus

He receives 141 doses from the Ministry of Health, 80 of which landed in Biscay because it is the territory with the most cases

Koldo Dominguez

Osakidetza today began distributing the vaccine against
monkey poxillness that has already caused
two dead in Spain and which has been declared a global public health emergency by the WHO. The Basque Country has received from the Ministry of Health a total of 141 doses out of the 5,300 it has to date in an attempt to control the
expansion of this virus. The distribution between the different autonomous communities was made according to “the population and the number of cases”.

Monkeypox: reasons for concern

This same criterion is the one that Osakidetza used to distribute prophylaxis among the three historical territories. In this sense, he attributed 80 injectables to Bizkaia (57% of the total), 46 to Gipuzkoa (33%) and 14 to Álava (10%). These figures confirm that Biscay is the province with the most “eligible population” and, therefore, with the most confirmed positives. According to the latest official figures communicated by the ministry, 98 contaminations had been confirmed in the Basque Country as of July 28.

As the availability of vaccines is currently limited (the central government expects to receive a shipment of 7,000 units in the coming days), the Public Health Commission has established a series of criteria to prioritize the administration of serums, which are the ones Osakidetza used to distribute his 141 doses. Vaccination is recommended in two ways: to improve the situation of infected people and to prevent contagion in the population at risk.

Experts advise post-exposure vaccination for infected people (if they receive the dose between four and fourteen days after infection, the risks of serious illness are reduced), for close contacts of HIV-positive people – especially HIV-positive patients , pregnant women, children and immunocompromised people – and for healthcare workers; and pre-exposure vaccination for people aged 18-45 who engage in high-risk sex, especially men who have sex with men and who have not previously been vaccinated against smallpox.

Despite the fact that the full guideline recommended by the manufacturing laboratory is two doses, those chosen will only receive one, pending the arrival of new shipments in Spain. Osakidetza staff are the ones who, in accordance with these protocols, carry out “active recruitment” among the “eligible population” to select the first 141 Basques to receive the serum. “The vaccine is safe,” Osakidetza insisted in a statement. “The side effects that may occur are similar to those of other vaccines: pain, redness at the injection site, headache and muscle aches. They are light and short-lived,” he reports.

Experts still do not have reliable data on the effectiveness of this vaccine in the current epidemic or on the level of protection it generates, but health authorities are calling on the “target population” to come and be vaccinated if they are selected.

The monkeypox vaccine, called Imvanex in Europe and Jynneos in the United States, is produced by only one laboratory in the world, the Danish Bavarian Nordic, which is now overwhelmed by the requests it receives from all countries. As with vaccines against Covid-19, Europe buys in common, but it encounters enormous competition. While the EU has formalized the acquisition of 110,000 doses, the United States has some 786,000, to which are added the 340,000 it had before the epidemic. And the lack of vaccines could worsen in the coming weeks, after countries like Brazil announced massive purchases to stop their epidemics.

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