26 July 2022
By Mary Bermingham
A public awareness campaign on the symptoms of monkeypox and how individuals can protect themselves from infection is urgently required here, according to Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer.
Senator Buttimer was speaking after Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced plans to extend the use of the smallpox vaccine for individuals at high risk of monkeypox infection, based on advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).
Senator Buttimer said: “In recent days, the World Health Organisation has declared monkeypox a global health emergency, with over 16,000 cases across 75 countries and territories.
“Authorities here have been notified of 69 confirmed cases of monkeypox, and a multidisciplinary Incident Management Team has been established by the HSE to prepare for cases and monitor the evolving situation.
“I welcome plans announced today to extend the use of the smallpox vaccine for individuals at high risk of monkeypox infection in Ireland, which is an important move in our response to the outbreak of this disease.
“I believe that a public awareness campaign is needed to address this latest global health emergency and it should form part of the roll-out of vaccinations to high-risk individuals.
“The Department and HSE are now working to implement the recommendations regarding the vaccination. There is a need to provide information on the signs and symptoms of the infection and what individuals should do if they are exposed to it.
“Yesterday, a Danish company announced it had been given approval from the European Commission for the use of a vaccine to protect against monkeypox, which is to be welcomed.
“It would be a mistake to assume that monkeypox only affects a certain group of people. Anyone regardless of sexual orientation is at risk of contracting the virus,” Senator Buttimer has said.