Ireland to end targeted mpox vaccinations as cases plummet

Mpox vaccine

Ireland’s targeted mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) vaccination programme will be shut down at the end of February.

Since the current outbreak began in May 2022, Ireland has had 227 confirmed cases of mpox.

In minister for health Stephen Donnelly’s update to Irish government’s cabinet on Wednesday (11 January), it was noted there there were zero recorded cases in weeks 50 and 51 of 2022, as per The Irish Times.

However, the most recent epidemiological data from the country’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows there were another two cases in the final week of the year.

No cases have been confirmed in Ireland so far in 2023.

Confirmed cases in the country peaked in the week of 20-27 August, when there were 18. Since early November there have been no more than four cases in a week.

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The Irish Times reports that Ireland’s public health service, the Health Service Executive, believed that having between 6,000 and 12,000 people vaccinated would provide the greatest benefit from a vaccination programme.

With just under 5,000 vaccine doses administered by 1 January 2023, it is reported that Donnelly believes mass vaccination is not currently required.

As a result, mpox vaccination appointments will only continue until the end of February.

Ireland is not the only country to begin winding down mpox vaccination efforts.

In early December, the United States’ Department of Health and Human Services announced the classification of mpox as a public health emergency would end on 31 January 2023.

Secretary Xavier Becerra said the department did “not expect that it needs” to be renewed, citing “the low number of cases” at the time.

The US seven-day moving average (averaging daily cases over the past seven days) in the week to 7 December was six, from a high of 462 in the seven days to 5 August.

Becerra said officials “won’t take our foot off the gas” and would “continue to monitor the case trends closely”, as well as continuing to work with disproportionately affected communities.

In the United Kingdom, the UK Health Security Agency stopped publicly publishing mpox data after 20 December “due to low case numbers and availability of alternative reports”.

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