Second doses of the mpox vaccine have recently become available. Unfortunately, there is a short window before the programme finishes at the end of August.
Despite reassurances from Te Whatu Ora that capacity for second doses would be able to be scaled up quickly, we have heard from our communities that there are difficulties in accessing appointments across the country, including in the major centres.
Burnett Foundation Aotearoa Chief Executive Joe Rich says that those at risk of mpox who have not received their first and/or second dose should still do so as soon as possible. There appears to be long wait times, people being put on waitlists, and limited clinic availability, so the sooner people book the better.
“The official vaccination programme from Te Whatu Ora will be coming to an end, and it is not yet clear exactly where and how vaccinations will be available for our communities after August,” says Mr. Rich.
“Now is the best time for our communities to get vaccinated, as it may be much more difficult after the official programme ends.”
We ask that Te Whatu Ora expand clinic availability and resolve access issues with urgency, as our communities are not sufficiently protected if there is a resurgence of cases.
Most people with mpox will develop a painful rash or lesions on the skin. These lesions can be anywhere in the body, including around the anus which can lead to proctitis (swelling of the lining inside the rectum).
Other common symptoms can include cold and flu symptoms, headaches, muscle and body aches, and tiredness.
The vaccine is free and available to gay, bisexual, and other men (cis or trans) who have sex with men (MSM) who are at risk, as well as their sexual partners. It is also available to anyone who is a close contact of someone who has been infected with mpox.
Mr. Rich says that although there are no current cases in Aotearoa, there are still cases in other countries.
“We are still seeing cases and outbreaks in other countries, including Australia. Vaccination is the best form of protection if there was to be another outbreak here in the future.”
The vaccine requires two doses, and these are administered at least 28 days apart. The highest level of protection is expected to be reached 14 days after the second dose.
People at risk of mpox can contact Healthline on 0800 116 672 between 8am - 8pm to book their consultation for a vaccine.