Denmark to reassess monkeypox vaccination strategy as cases increase

The number of monkeypox cases detected in Denmark is now 101. Health authorities say they will reassess vaccination policy against the virus.

Denmark to reassess monkeypox vaccination strategy as cases increase
Illustration photo showing monkeypox virus samples in test tubes. Denmark is considering vaccinating more people against the virus. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Health Authority will reconsider its vaccination strategy against monkeypox, including whether more people should be offered a vaccine. Currently, only close contacts to confirmed cases of the virus are offered vaccination.

“It’s clear that when we see an increase [in cases], there’s something or other we’re not doing well enough. So we must find out how to do it better,” deputy director Helene Bilsted Probst told news wire Ritzau.

“In light of the increase we’re now seeing, we are reassessing whether to offer vaccination to someone who might be at high risk of infection but is not a close contact,” she said.

Monkeypox infection typically occurs due to close physical contact or through sleeping in the same bed. It can only be passed on once the infected person has symptoms.

In Denmark, as in other countries, a large number of cases are being seen among men who have sex with men.

The Danish Health Authority is this week expected update guidelines for monkeypox and increase its messaging relating to the virus.

A decision on whether to broaden the scope of vaccination is expected to be made by next week.

Denmark has purchased 3,000 monkeypox vaccines. Probst said around 150 close contacts had so far been vaccinated but that she could not give an exact figure.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) last week declared the monkeypox outbreak, which has affected nearly 16,000 people in 72 countries, to be a global health emergency — the highest alarm it can sound.

The WHO’s European office said on Saturday that more monkeypox-related deaths can be expected, following reports in Spain of the first fatalities outside Africa, while stressing that severe complications were still be rare.

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Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

A Danish LGBT+ rights group says that a decision by the country’s health authority to offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men, and have multiple sexual partners, is ‘what we have asked for’.

Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

Denmark will now offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men and have multiple sexual partners, the Danish Health Authority said on Tuesday.

Previously, the shots were only given to people who had been in close contact with a confirmed case.

Anyone can get monkeypox from close contact, not just men who have sex with men. However, high numbers of cases have been recorded in that group, in Denmark as well as internationally.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox: Denmark to offer vaccination to at-risk group

The head of secretariat with association LGBT+ Denmark, Susanne Branner Jespersen, told broadcaster DR the organisation was “pleased” that health authorities have broadened the segment to which vaccinations are offered.

“This is what we have asked for, so we can only be satisfied that they are now coming out with a vaccination strategy which fits with the needs we are seeing,” Jespersen said.

“Being vaccinated does not set aside the general guidelines which have come out, but it will give a higher degree of security,” she said.

The organisation last week called for the Danish Health Authority to offer the monkeypox vaccine to men who have sex with men.

That request has now been met. The vaccine is given as two injections at a 28-day interval.

The health authority is in dialogue with regional health providers and hospitals regarding how the vaccination effort will be coordinated and expects to begin vaccinations by the end of this week, new wire Ritzau reported.

The vice director of the Danish Health Authority, Helene Probst, DR on Tuesday that people in risk groups show be “extra aware” of symptoms, with case numbers currently increasing.

“Vaccination is one part of a strategy with several elements, but it is also important to be aware of symptoms,” Probst told DR.

Typical symptoms of Monkeypox are similar to those most experience with influenza.

Additional symptoms can include a rash in the groin area, itching and discomfort, and blisters in the mouth or on hands. Should these symptoms present, the sufferer should contact their doctor, be tested for monkeypox and avoid close contact with others.

The disease can be passed on to others once symptoms are present.

Latest data from the State Serum Institute (SSI), the national infectious disease agency, show that 126 people in Denmark have contracted monkeypox since the first case was detected in the country in late May.