With monkeypox vaccine in high demand and available doses being gobbled up by wealthy countries, Jamaica is expected to receive only 3,500 doses by the end of the month.
Health and Welfare Minister Dr Christopher Tufton provided an update during Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Representatives. He said the acquisition was facilitated by collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) which announced this week that it had secured 100,000 doses from Danish manufacturers.
“We are aware that the manufacturers of the smallpox vaccine which has been shown to be effective in protecting people against smallpox have supplied limited quantities to the market and as such only approximately 3,500 doses of the vaccine have been promised to us. It should be noted that we may not receive this amount as the vaccine supply is in high demand with a very limited supply,” Tufton said.
He said that in order to maximize the use of the vaccine and achieve containment objectives, Cabinet has given approval for the administration of the vaccine in this phase, as post-exposure prophylaxis.
“The vaccine, once in the country, will only be given to people who come into close contact with a diagnosed patient. These people would include healthcare workers involved in the direct care of patients with monkeypox…and household contacts of confirmed cases, including sexual partners,” Tufton explained.
He added that once the country receives more vaccine doses, the prioritization method will be refined and the public will be informed.
“We have been advised by PAHO that it is not anticipated that additional doses will be made available to Jamaica until 2023,” the minister revealed.
Meanwhile, PAHO Director Dr Carissa Etienne said the organization was finalizing arrangements to acquire the 100,000 doses of monkeypox vaccines from biotech company Bavarian Nordic, for distribution to countries. members from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Etienne said PAHO secured a deal through its revolving fund, with Bavarian Nordic, headquartered in Hellerup, Denmark. She said this followed requests for support from member countries for access to doses, which were made during a special session of PAHO’s Directing Council in August, noting that 12 such requests had been submitted. .
“We receive the latest logistical details, such as freight and insurance estimates, and deliveries will be prioritized based on the epidemiological situation in countries. Thus, partial delivery to countries that have requested it will begin, now, in September…making our region the first World Health Organization (WHO) region to make monkeypox vaccines available Member States,” added Etienne.
“Our effort will allow countries in this region to access the vaccine, even in small quantities, which would not have been possible otherwise,” she added.
The director was speaking at PAHO’s digital press conference on September 7, where she noted that the Americas region had the unenviable distinction of recording the highest number of confirmed cases of monkeypox in the world, since the WHO declared the disease a health emergency of international concern in July. .
“As of September 6, more than 30,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the Americas, with most cases concentrated in the United States of America, Brazil, Peru and Canada. So far most of the confirmed cases are in men…although at least 145 cases have been reported in women and 54 cases in people under the age of 18,” she told reporters.
Additionally, the director said four monkeypox-related deaths have so far been reported in Brazil, Cuba and Ecuador.
Monkeypox is a rare disease resulting from infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is a zoonotic disease and is part of the family of viruses known as variola virus, which causes smallpox.
The symptoms are similar to those characteristic of smallpox, but milder; monkeypox is considered rarely fatal.
Signs and symptoms associated with the disease include fever, chills, severe headache, extreme exhaustion, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that usually appears one to three days after onset fever.
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