PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The spread of the monkeypox virus has many wondering about the vaccine that protects against infection.
There are two vaccines available to treat monkeypox.
One was initially developed for smallpox, but does offer protection against Monkey Pox, and there is a newer vaccine specifically for monkeypox, which is the one being used locally.
“It is a live, non-replicating vaccine so it is a bit different than the COVID vaccines we’ve been dealing with,” said Dr. Patrick Kenney, infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic Weston.
The vaccine creates an immune response by exposing the patient to the actual virus, but in a way that it can’t reproduce and cause an infection, with some potential exceptions.
“There are few contraindications to this vaccine, one being that you have immune deficiency being that you have an acquired immune deficiency say from HIV virus or if you have an inherent immune deficiency or if you’re on immuno-suppressant medication such as a chemotherapy or a medication for auto-immune disease,” Kenney said.
Infectious disease experts agree the vaccine is very safe for immune competent people but is currently not recommended for the general public, only those at most risk for infection.
Kenney said that includes those who’ve come in contact with an infected people, and, in this current outbreak, men who have sex with men.
“In this community in Broward County there’s been a push to vaccinate those individuals, there’s also been a push to vaccinate healthcare workers and laboratories who handle the specimens,” Kenney said.
The vaccine is also not indicated for people who are allergic to any of the ingredients.
Side effects from the vaccine are typical: Pain at the injection site, low grade fever, generalized muscle aches and pains, and fatigue, all of which Kenney said are attributed to the immune response.
Kenney said unlike COVID, this virus is spread through direct contact, and no one has died from this outbreak however monkeypox can lead to other problems like pneumonia and infections, which independently can be fatal.