Does the smallpox vaccine protect against monkeypox?

Does the smallpox vaccine protect against monkeypox?

The facts were checked on June 2, 2022 by Viviana Shields, journalist and fact-checker with expertise in health and wellness publishing.


As cases of monkeypox continue to spread around the world, people have turned their questioning of “what is it?” to “How can I protect myself?” As it turns out, some older adults in the United States may still be somewhat protected from the virus due to a prior vaccination: the smallpox vaccine.


“Smallpox vaccination also protects against monkeypox,” said Hannah Newman, director of epidemiology at Lenox Hill Hospital Hannah Newman. health. “People who were vaccinated against smallpox years ago may have some immunity, or at least have some protection against a milder disease if they contract it.”


The United States officially discontinued routine smallpox vaccination in 1972, after the disease was eradicated, but out of concern about bioterrorism, the government has a large stockpile of smallpox vaccine—enough to immunize all Americans who need protection, in the event of a future outbreak.


So what does all this mean for the current increase in monkeypox cases? How much protection does a previous smallpox vaccination give to elderly people at risk of developing monkeypox? And how does the United States plan to distribute these vaccines for the current outbreak? Here’s what you need to know.



According to Newman, it’s possible that people who received the smallpox vaccine before it was discontinued in 1972 still had some protection against the related monkeypox virus and other orthopoxviruses—it’s not entirely clear how much.


A study published in 2007 in the journal Clinical Immunology and Vaccines It found that previous childhood smallpox vaccination did not provide complete protection against monkeypox – but did provide partial protection. The researchers also found that in those previously vaccinated against smallpox, those who still had monkeypox had reduced disease severity.


“It’s clear that protection is diminishing,” said William Schaffner, MD, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. health. “How much, and certainly how much against monkeypox, we do not know.”





There are two different types of smallpox vaccines that the United States has in stock that are either also approved or could be useful against monkeypox: ACAM2000 and Jynneos. Both were licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–ACAM2000 in 2007 and Jynneos in 2019.


Neither of these two vaccines was the specific vaccine used when smallpox vaccination was mandatory for the past two centuries, according to Newman. But ACAM2000 replaces Dryvax, which was licensed by the FDA in 1931 and uses the same type of virus to create an immune response.


The ACAM2000 vaccine does not contain variola virus (the virus that causes smallpox), but does contain live vaccinia virus, which is in the smallpox virus family and is related to the smallpox virus. The vaccine is approved for people 18 years of age and older who are at risk of orthopoxviruses (currently, this includes people in laboratories who work with orthopoxviruses and the military), but it can be used on people exposed to monkeypox, if needed.


The vaccine differs from typical vaccines in that it does not contain an injection. Instead, the vaccine is given by means of a two-pronged (forked) needle dipped in a vaccine solution and then pricked into the upper arm. A small red, itchy, sore spot (known as a “pustule”) appears at the vaccination site, indicating successful vaccination. The spot will then turn into a blister, then crust, and leave behind a scar.


Jynneos is the newest vaccine that has been licensed in the United States to prevent both monkeypox and smallpox. Like ACAM2000, Jynneos is also made from vaccinia virus, but in a modified form called “Ankara Modified Vaccine”. It is non-reproducible, which means that it cannot reproduce in human cells, and it does not cause disease. The vaccine is intended for people 18 years of age or older who are at increased risk of infection with orthopoxviruses, and is given in two doses, four weeks apart.



According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, according to previous data from Africa. Meanwhile, the efficacy of Genos against monkeypox was determined by the vaccine’s immunity – or its ability to elicit an immune response – and its efficacy based on animal experiments.


Although there is a large amount of ACAM2000 vaccine available – more than 100 million doses – the availability of the Jynneos vaccine is significantly lower, with just over 1,000 doses currently in stock, although it is expected to increase.


In the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published by the CDC on May 27, the agency accepted recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to make Jynneos available to those at high risk of exposure and infection — that could mean people studying monkeypox in labs, So are the health care workers who, for now, may be dealing with the current outbreak.


The CDC has also begun mobilizing the monkeypox vaccine in light of the increase in cases, by focusing on those who have been directly exposed. “Currently, while we are in the early stage of investigating this matter, we know that the people most at risk of infection are those who have been in contact with a patient known as monkeypox,” Jennifer McQueenston, veterinarian and deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Pathogens and Pathology said. Disease Control and Prevention, for CNN. “These are the individuals who are really focused on recommending vaccination at the moment: post-exposure vaccination.”


This strategy is also known as ‘circular vaccination’, in which direct contacts of confirmed monkeypox patients are vaccinated. “At that time, the vaccine is available through Public Health for people who have been in contact with confirmed or suspected cases,” Newman said. “This strategy ensures that everyone who has been exposed to, or who could have been exposed to, a patient with smallpox receives the vaccine.”


Thereafter, the vaccines are unlikely to be widely used among the general public. “It’s not something everyone needs,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, who has a doctorate in the Department of Emerging and Zoonoses at the World Health Organization. During a question and answer on social media. “It is a virus that spreads between people who are in close contact with those who are infected.”



Even without a nationwide vaccination effort — which, again, is unlikely to happen — there are still ways to reduce the risk of monkeypox.


Because the virus is spread through contact with an infected animal or person, or materials contaminated with infected body fluids, the best prevention strategy is to avoid contact with any animals, people, or items (bedding, clothing, towels) that could harbor the virus.


As with many other viruses, practicing personal hygiene is also important. This means washing hands with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after potential contact, as well as using personal protective equipment.


If you think you’ve been exposed to monkeypox – either through travel or close contact with an infected person – you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible and isolate from others to reduce the risk of transmission.


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2022-06-02 22:24:21

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