Jamaica has received its first batch of the monkeypox vaccine.
The 1,400 single-dose vials of the vaccine JYNNEOS, which is approved for the prevention of monkeypox disease in individuals 18 years and older, arrived in the island on National Heroes Day, Monday, October 17.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness made the announcement in a statement on Wednesday.
“The vaccines, which have an expiry date of June 2025, will be administered on a priority basis to healthcare workers involved in direct care of monkeypox patients and without the appropriate personal protective equipment; adult household contacts; and sexual partners of a confirmed case. Vaccination is not at this time recommended for the general population,” said the ministry.
It reminded that the spread of monkeypox may occur when a person comes into close contact with an infected individual.
Person-to-person spread may occur through direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs, including:
-close personal contact
-contact with contaminated personal items, such as clothing, bed linen or towels used by an infected person; and
-respiratory droplets by way of coughing or sneezing of an individual with a monkeypox rash.
The symptoms of monkeypox are usually mild to moderate, and include fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle ache and/or rash on the skin. Members of the public who experience these symptoms should immediately isolate and call ahead to their health centre or doctor before visiting.
Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, in a statement to the House of Representatives in September, said the country was set to receive 3,500 doses of the scarce vaccine by the end of that month.
But, with the vaccine being in high demand and being gobbled up by richer countries such as the United States, Tufton warned then that the 3,500 doses were not guaranteed.
He said the acquisition was being facilitated through collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), which announced that it had secured 100,000 doses from the Danish manufacturers.
“We are advised that the manufacturers of the smallpox vaccine that has been shown to be effective in protecting persons from moneypox, has supplied limited amounts to the market and, as such, only approximately 3,500 doses of the vaccine have been promised to us. It is to be noted that we may not receive this amount, as the supply of the vaccine is in high demand with very limited supply,” Tufton said.
Jamaica has to date recorded 15 cases of monkeypox.
Of the 15 confirmed cases, 12 have recovered, while two cases remain active.
One death of a person with a positive case is currently under investigation.