The HSE has announced that people who are at high risk of contracting monkeypox will be offered a vaccine in the coming weeks.
They are widening the vaccination process and are implementing the most recent National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) advice, which is to vaccinate people at risk before they are exposed to the virus.
They sought the advice and guidance of clinical and ethical experts to develop a plan for the initial offer of the limited supply of vaccines currently available.
The HSE also engaged closely over the last number of weeks with the advocacy and support groups to seek their input into the plan.
It is estimated that around 6,000 people may be at heightened risk of monkeypox infection.
They said current vaccine supplies will allow vaccination for around 10 per cent of these individuals in the first phase of the vaccine rollout.
The HSE has developed a process of prioritising people for vaccination. At this time, supplies of vaccine in Ireland and in the EU are low and limited.
Ireland, along with other EU countries is actively exploring options to increase our medium to long-term supply of vaccines.
They said current indications in relation to global supplies of vaccines the second phase of vaccine roll out in Ireland is likely to commence later this year and into next year.
To date, the HSE has been offering vaccine to those who are close contacts of cases of monkeypox following assessment by public health and these people have been contacted and invited for vaccination.
Given the current limited vaccine supply, the HSE will prioritise the vaccine for gbMSM and transgender people who have had a notification to the HSE’s Infectious Disease Monitoring system known as CIDR, of early infectious syphilis (EIS) between December 2021 and July 2022.
The HSE sad they are working closely with Infectious Disease and Genitourinary Medicine Consultants and the clinical teams in STI clinics around the country to quickly put a process in place to identify and call forward these people for vaccination.
In this first phase of the pre-exposure vaccination programme, the STI teams will offer approximately 600 people, two doses of the vaccine – 28 days apart as per the NIAC guidelines.
Services will begin to contact these people directly in the coming days, and it is expected that people identified will receive the vaccine over the coming weeks. The confidentiality of these individuals will be protected.
Separately, the HSE will ensure that it maintains a supply of vaccine which will be available for those intermediate and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case.
They said the number of new monkeypox cases in Ireland, week on week, is stable.