What are the side effects of the Monkeypox vaccine?

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Side effects from the monkeypox vaccine are rare, but it’s important to be prepared before your vaccination

Cases of the virus are steadily rising around the world, and the US has declared it a public health emergency.

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While in Europe the WHO have also declared the incident a global health crisis and described the risk of contracting the virus as “high”.

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Monkeypox causes high temperature, headache, muscle pain, back pain, swollen glands and skin lesions.

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However, a vaccine is available and the UK is in the process of rolling out its vaccination programme.

Side effects are rare, but it’s important to be prepared before your vaccination.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the side effects of the monkeypox vaccine.

A healthcare worker prepares to administer a monkeypox vaccine in Florida, USA (Image: Getty Images)

What is the Monkeypox vaccine?

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Monkeypox is a virus similar to smallpox, which means vaccines used to treat smallpox can provide protection and reduce the severity of an infection.

The Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine was developed in the 1970’s and has been successfully used as a vaccine against smallpox in the UK and abroad.

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When you receive the vaccine, your body’s immune system makes antibodies against the virus.

Two doses of the vaccine are given to give people a good level of protection, while it is less clear how much protection one dose offers.

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The vaccine takes time to work and reaches its highest level of protection after about 4 weeks.

The MVA vaccine does not contain the smallpox virus and cannot spread or cause it.

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Who is eligible for the monkeypox vaccine?

The monkeypox MVA vaccine is currently available for:

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  • Healthcare workers assigned to attend and care for a patient with confirmed monkeypox
  • gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Your clinician will recommend vaccination if you have multiple partners, participate in group sex, or attend sex-on-site events
  • Individuals who have previously had close contact with a patient with confirmed monkeypox. Vaccination with a single dose of vaccine should be offered as soon as possible (ideally within 4 days but sometimes up to 14 days).
People queue to get the monkeypox vaccine at Guys Hospital in London (Image: Getty Images)

What Are Monkeypox Vaccine Side Effects?

The monkeypox vaccine has a good safety profile, but it can cause side effects.

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These are usually mild and not everyone who gets the vaccine will experience them.

Side effects may be more common in people who have received a dose of live smallpox vaccine.

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Unlike the live smallpox vaccine, the monkeypox vaccine leaves no scar.

If you experience any side effects after your vaccination, you should talk to your doctor, pharmacist, nurse or call 111.

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This includes all possible side effects not listed below.

Common side effects acc gov.uk may include:

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  • Pain and itching at the injection site
  • headache
  • Muscle aches
  • illness and fatigue
  • one in 10 people suffers from chills and fever.

If you experience any of the common side effects listed above, it is important that you give yourself time to rest and recover.

If you have atopic dermatitis, you may sometimes experience skin reactions around the injection site, including redness, swelling and itching.

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You could also have symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, nausea or fatigue, and a flare-up of your skin condition.

Fainting can also occur after vaccination.

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If you pass out, it’s important to stay flat on your back with your legs raised and call for help.

Although this is exceptionally rare, it is important to be aware of the potentially serious side effects of the vaccine.

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If you experience the following side effects after your vaccination, contact emergency services by calling 99.

Serious side effects include:

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  • difficult or noisy breathing or wheezing
  • swollen tongue
  • persistent fainting or loss of consciousness
  • confusion

These side effects can be caused by a rare allergic reaction and usually occur 15 minutes after the vaccine is given.

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