Faced with the rise in cases of monkeypox and the difficulties in tracing the chains of contamination, France announced on Friday the extension of vaccination, now offered preventively to the most exposed groups, in particular the homosexuals, as in other countries.
It joins in this approach the United Kingdom, the United States or Canada, as demanded by LGBTQ + associations, professionals of health and left-wing parties.
Until then, vaccination was only offered to adults, including caregivers who had risky contact with a patient. About 700 people have been vaccinated.
But “in the face of the spread of the [monkeypox] virus, the kinetics of the epidemic and the difficulties of tracing the contacts of infected people”, the High Health Authority (HAS) has recommended expanding vaccination to be able to administer it preventively to those most exposed by “their sexual practices or their profession”.
France had 721 cases, including 4 women and 2 children, mostly in Île-de-France, according to the latest report from Public Health France released on Thursday.
As in other countries, the majority of cases identified concern men who have sex with men.
The possibility of preventive vaccination concerns “men who have sex with men and trans people reporting multiple sexual partners, people in a situation of prostitution, professionals in places of sexual consumption”, specified the HAS.
The government hopes to start vaccinations “from the beginning of next week”, said Friday the Minister of Health and Prevention, François Braun.
The vaccination is carried out with two doses, spaced 28 days. For people vaccinated against smallpox in the past, a single dose is sufficient. For the immunocompromised, a third is recommended.
The monkeypox virus can be transmitted by direct contact with a patient's skin or mucous membrane lesions as well as by droplets. “Sexual intercourse, with or without penetration, meets these conditions for contamination, and having several partners increases the risk of being exposed to the virus”, recalled Public Health France.
Contamination can also occur by contact with the patient's environment (bedding, clothes, bath linen, etc.). At this stage, the cases reported in Europe are mostly mild, and no deaths have been reported. This viral disease usually heals spontaneously, after 2 to 3 weeks.
An unusual upsurge in cases has been detected since May outside the countries of Central and West Africa where the virus is endemic, with some 6,000 cases recorded worldwide according to the World Health Organization.
With more than 80% of cases, Europe remains by far the most affected. Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain are the most affected countries, with more than 1000 cases each.