The Australian Government has secured 450,000 doses of the new third-generation monkeypox virus (MPX) vaccine by Bavarian Nordic.
The first delivery of around 22,000 doses are due to arrive in Australia this week. The remainder will arrive later this year and in 2023.
“The Albanese Government has responded early to the monkeypox outbreak, securing supplies of the third-generation vaccine in a time of limited supply and significant global demand,” said Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler.
“This is an important step towards minimising the risk and impact of any further monkeypox outbreaks in Australia.”
He said Australia was one of a limited number of countries to secure supplies of the vaccine in 2022.
In preparation for the arrival of the vaccine, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended key groups to be vaccinated.
The states and territories will immediately receive MPX vaccine from the first delivery and will manage the vaccine rollout within their jurisdictions. This includes prioritising access to the initial doses to manage the immediate outbreak, based on who is at greatest risk of exposure or severe illness and their local context.
Minister Butler said the Government was acting quickly to limit the spread of monkeypox and protect the community.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer has already declared monkeypox a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance and the National Incident Centre has been activated to provide a national response.
“We have continued to work closely with key stakeholders, including AFAO, NAPWHA, and ASHM since the detection of monkeypox in Australia,” he said.
In response to the evolving situation the Government has also engaged ASHM and AFAO to form a National MPXV Taskforce, which will provide leadership and policy advice on community engagement, clinical management, education and prevention.
“The Government will provide funding to peak organisations to undertake targeted communication activities that support the monkeypox response in Australia. A highly targeted campaign will also be created to encourage at risk populations to vaccinate,” said Mr Butler.
Acting Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) CEO, Heath Paynter said the swift procurement of vaccines was a very positive development.
“While local transmission of monkeypox has so far been limited, we can’t rely on that to continue. Cities such as London, Montreal, Lisbon and Madrid are all dealing with significant community transmission,” he said.
“It is deeply reassuring to see the Commonwealth also commit to a health promotion campaign that will reach people at risk of transmission across Australia and inform them of the benefits of being vaccinated. Combined with an expert taskforce representing community and clinical experts, this is a substantial step forward in responding to monkeypox.”