Smallpox vaccination can protect against monkeypox, health secretary says

TEMPO.CO, jakartaSmallpox vaccines are still considered effective in protecting recipients from monkey poxHealth Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said.

“Monkeypox (virus) belongs to the same genus as smallpox (virus). (The effectiveness of the) smallpox (vaccine) is different from the COVID-19 (vaccine) which is declining in six months,” he stressed after the launch of the SatuSehat platform here on Tuesday.

The smallpox vaccine can protect recipients and allow them to produce antibodies throughout their lives, he noted.

“So those who have been vaccinated against smallpox are quite protected (from monkeypox). In addition, there will be antiviral therapy for the treatment (of patients),” he added.

He said the administration of the smallpox vaccine is one of his ministry’s efforts to stem the transmission of monkeypox, which has so far infected 16,000 people in 75 countries and has the potential to become a global epidemic.

Other efforts have included enforcing health protocols, using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, and sourcing appropriate drugs for treatment.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has (also) recommended the same (measures),” the minister noted.

The Ministry of Health has deployed 500 units of monkeypox PCR test kits for surveillance purposes at various entry points across Indonesia and plans to import additional test children, which will be paid out to all provinces in July 2022.

The monkeypox vaccine is currently not available in Indonesia, Sadikin said.

Therefore, his ministry strives to provide the medicines needed to treat monkeypox patients.

He urged the public not to worry too much about the risk of monkeypox transmission in Indonesia, as the disease is fairly easy for health workers to diagnose directly — even with the naked eye — from symptoms on the skin of infected individuals.

“So you don’t have to worry; this (monkeypox) will only spread after symptoms have appeared – unlike COVID-19, which can be transmitted even though (the patients) are asymptomatic,” he stressed.

Transmission of the disease requires physical contact with infected patients’ bodily fluids, he added.

As of Tuesday (July 26, 2022), the Ministry has no monkey pox cases in Indonesia.


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