CHP recommends gay men to get monkeypox vaccine first

Two scientific committees under the Centre for Health Protection have said men who have sex with men should be among those prioritized for the monkeypox vaccine in Hong Kong.

Monkeypox continues to spread around the world in recent months, with the virus declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

The committees noted that the latest global epidemiology of monkeypox showed the dominant affected group was men having sex with men (MSM) who have multiple sexual partners and there were practical challenges to identify and reach sexual contacts in this group via contact tracing for post-exposure vaccination.

It said they considered individuals at high risk of exposure, importantly but not exclusively gay, bisexual and other MSM with certain high-risk sexual practices or history of sexually transmitted infection within the past 12 months, should be included as a target group for pre-exposure vaccination against monkeypox with the highest priority on a voluntary basis.

Other target groups for pre-exposure vaccination, in order of priority, could include other high-risk groups in the community.

They include sex workers, participants in group sex or persons having multiple sexual partners, healthcare workers responsible for care of confirmed monkeypox patients, laboratory personnel working with zoonotic pox viruses, staff responsible for decontamination of environments contaminated by confirmed cases following case-by-case assessment, and animal care personnel with a high risk of exposure in case of monkeypox occurrence in animals in Hong Kong.

The health experts highlighted that vaccination should be given on a voluntary basis rather than mandatory.

Meanwhile, noting the results of a related clinical trial and overseas practice, the committees said the administration of one-fifth of the volume of a full dose of third-generation modified vaccinia vaccine for immunocompetent adults could be adopted as an alternative dosing regime and antigen-sparing measure if there is limited vaccine supply locally.

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