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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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HEALTH

Denmark considers moving outpatient nurses to night shifts to ease shortage

Danish hospitals could ask nurses that usually work in outpatient services to cover night and weekend shifts in an effort to ease a lack of staff cover.

Denmark considers moving outpatient nurses to night shifts to ease shortage

The Danish Regions, the elected bodies which operate hospitals in Denmark’s five regions, are considering a plan to require nurses who work at outpatient clinics to fill night and weekend shifts in hospitals, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports.

The policy would aim to prevent hospital nurses — particularly those working in intensive care, surgery, and emergency departments — from leaving the public system for more favourable working conditions at private clinics. 

Nurses in departments with shift rotas bear the brunt of a nurse labour shortage, meaning many must take on an untenable number of night and weekend shifts as many of their colleagues leave, according to the report.

“The lack of staff is currently the biggest challenge for the health service and a more transparent and fair rota, in which staff have an input on their schedules, is one of the most important keys to becoming a more attractive place of work and retaining personnel,” Stephanie Lose, chair of the Southern Denmark regional council and vice-president of the Danish Regions, told Jyllands-Posten.

“We have to share the heavy on-call load on to more shoulders, and our clear message is that all hospitals must work with this systematically in all areas, otherwise we will not achieve our goal,” she said.

The Danish Regions want to base the plan on a model already used in the South Denmark region, according to Jyllands-Posten.

This would mean staff having rotas with at least eight weeks’ notice, and weekend shifts no more often than every third week.

The Regions also propose that nurses employed in outpatient clinics spend a third of their working time on the schedule in an inpatient ward.

The leader of Danish trade union for nurses DSR, Grete Christensen, did not dismiss the prospect in comments to Jyllands-Posten.

Christensen warned against forcing all hospitals and departments to comply with a defined model, however.

She said that the essence of the problem is a lack of nurses in the public health system.

READ ALSO: Denmark takes ‘far too long’ to approve qualifications of foreign medics, nurses 

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