Health Minister Mark Butler announces next step in Australia’s monkeypox response

The first shipment of nearly half a million doses of a new monkeypox virus vaccine is on its way to Australia.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Health Minister Mark Butler confirmed the government had secured 450,000 doses of the vaccine from Bavarian Nordic.

The first delivery of about 22,000 doses will arrive in the country later this week, with deliveries to continue into next year.

Mr Butler said Australia was one of only a few countries that had been able to secure access to the third-generation vaccine.

The vaccines will be rolled out though state and territory sexual health clinics.

As it stands, 58 cases of monkeypox have been detected in Australia.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said all of Australia’s cases were exclusively among patients who were gay, bisexual and men who had sex with other men.

But he warned “this can affect anyone”.

“It generally does not cause severe disease, but there’s been some deaths recently … And it can affect other people who are immunocompromised, children and pregnant women,” Professor Kelly said.

“And if it gets into those populations it can be quite severe, so that’s why we’re taking the steps we’re taking.

“The vaccines will really help like that.”

Professor Kelly said he was “confident” the vaccine would help to control the epidemic.

The government will also increase clinical capability so that doctors and other clinicians can identify, isolate and treat cases, as well as contacts, as quickly as possible.

“Case numbers are certainly growing in countries that haven‘t traditionally experienced monkeypox – countries outside of Africa,” Mr Butler said.

“We’re certainly running well behind the level of case reporting you see in the US, Canada, Europe and UK, but we’ve been working very hard on this response for the last several weeks.”

Originally published as Health Minister announces next step in Australia’s monkeypox fight