Health expects to receive 108 new doses this week, an “insufficient” amount to “organize a campaign,” denounces the counselor Pedreño. Madrid and Catalonia have already begun to protect men who have sex with men and take PrEP
The vaccine against monkeypox still does not reach the population most exposed to the virus in the Region of Murcia. The Ministry currently has only 43 doses, after having administered 33 to close contacts of infected people and some patients with HIV. This week, Health hopes to receive a new batch of 108 vaccines, an amount that will still not be “sufficient to organize a vaccination campaign,” the counselor, Juan José Pedreño, assured on Tuesday.
“The protocol establishes that close contacts and vulnerable people will be vaccinated, especially the innumodepressed. Some immunosuppressed patients have already been vaccinated in the Region, but there are still very few doses: we cannot plan a vaccination schedule,” the counselor denounced. “We would like to have more vaccines. The Ministry should have bet on getting more, since Spain is one of the European countries with the most cases », he added.
The problem of the lack of vials is common to all of Spain, but in communities such as Madrid and Catalonia, vaccination has already been opened to people at risk. Specifically, in the Community of Madrid, the campaign has begun at the Isabel Zendal Hospital, by appointment, while in Catalonia, men who have sex with men and take PrEP (a pre-exposure treatment to prevent HIV in people who have sex with multiple unprotected sexual partners). Madrid has received some 5,000 vaccines so far, while just over 1,600 have arrived in Catalonia.
In the Region of Murcia, the Infectious Diseases services have begun to send lists to the Ministry with people interested in being vaccinated, but at the moment an “active search is not being carried out aimed at all people who take PrEP, something that would be ideal”, highlights Enrique Bernal, head of Infectious Diseases at Reina Sofía. Given the lack of available doses, “you have to prioritize,” he says. In the Region of Murcia there were, at the end of last year, 128 people in treatment with PrEP. This group of patients is the first to be targeted by the vaccine, along with people with HIV who have relationships with multiple sexual partners, according to the protocols.
To deal with monkeypox, smallpox vaccine is being used. The ‘stocks’, at the beginning of the outbreaks, were very scarce, because smallpox is an eradicated disease. Hence, the vials are arriving with a dropper. Spain is only guaranteed about 18,500 doses for this year, according to purchases made through the European Union. Given this shortage, the European Medicines Agency is studying alternatives, such as authorizing the extraction of five doses from each vial.
33 cases in the Region of Murcia
The Region of Murcia has 33 cases of monkeypox so far, according to the latest balance from the Ministry of Health. In all of Spain there are already 5,719 confirmed cases. Of these, 5,413 are men and 97 women. Madrid is in the lead, with 2,094 infected, followed by Catalonia, with 1,782. Spain is the European Union country with the most reported infections. Most cases (approximately 75%) have been recorded in men who have sex with men, which leads to prioritizing vaccination in this population, but it is not a sexually transmitted disease. Experts warn of the risk of stigmatizing. The virus is transmitted by very close physical contact, and hence during sexual intercourse such transmission can occur. But in almost 10% of cases the infection has occurred after non-sexual contact.
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