Mpox situation @ Jan 2023

• The mpox vaccine has arrived in NZ, initially there is enough for up to 20,000 people. Further supply is anticipated to arrive later this year.

• The vaccine is not approved by MedSafe as yet so can only be made available under section 29 of the Medicines Act 1981, which allows for it to be provided after a consultation with a medical practitioner where informed consent has been given.

• As it is unapproved in NZ, the vaccine itself cannot be promoted under Section 20 of the Medicines Act.

• That said, the vaccine has a good safety profile, has been approved internationally and is in use in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

People who are concerned they may have or catch mpox should:

  • complete an initial assessment on https://www.burnettfoundation.org.nz or
  • call the mpox Healthline 0800 116 672 between 8am and 8pm.

• Close physical contacts should vaccinate within four days after first exposure to mpox.

• In the initial phase, first doses are being prioritised for the eligible population. Timing of the recommended second dose is a minimum 28 day interval and can be up to 2 years after the first dose.

• This vaccine was developed for the prevention of both smallpox and mpox and has been used globally in 2022 for the prevention of mpox. It has a good safety profile and has been recommended by the mpox technical advisory group (NZ).

• It is given intradermally in NZ with side effects include local injection site reactions (pain, redness, swelling and hardening), muscle aches, headache, fatigue, nausea and chills. A raised lump forms at the injection site which usually only lasts a few weeks but in some instances longer, or is permanent.

Information as at 19 January 2023