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Taking Stock of the Stockpile

As the number of monkeypox cases increases, countries in Europe and the US are evaluating their stockpiles of smallpox vaccines, the Washington Post reports. It notes, though, that US, European, and World Health Organization officials say mass immunizations are not currently needed.

Monkeypox has been detected in about a dozen countries where the virus is not endemic, including the US. This, the Post notes, has prompted health officials to assess their stores of smallpox vaccines, which also provide protection against monkeypox. In the US, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say the US has a stockpile of 100 million doses of an older smallpox vaccine and about 1,000 doses of a newer vaccine. The government, it adds, has ordered additional doses of the newer vaccine, as the older one is associated with significant side effects.

The Post notes that routine smallpox immunizations were phased out in the 1970s in many countries as the disease was eradicated. While general immunizations are not needed now, it adds that vaccinations may be offered to healthcare workers —  which the UK is already doing — or the close contacts of confirmed cases, especially if they are immunocompromised.