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If I have been vaccinated against smallpox, do I need the vaccine for monkeypox as well?




San Antonio – Questions about the monkeypox vaccine flooded the KSAT Trust Index inbox. Is it the same as the smallpox vaccine? Will the old vaccine still work? ”

KSAT turned to Jason Bowling, Ph.D., associate professor of infectious diseases at UT Health San Antonio’s Long School of Medicine and chief epidemiologist at University Health, to answer these questions.

Bowling quickly confirmed that the vaccine currently in use against monkeypox was the smallpox vaccine.

“It’s a new vaccine that’s in use now. It’s related. It’s considered a third-generation smallpox vaccine, but it’s also effective against monkeypox,” Bowling said.

He said this current vaccine only received FDA approval in 2019, so it’s different from the older vaccines people received decades ago.

“They stopped using it in 1972. Then there was a second vaccine for smallpox that people might think, but it was actually used by people working with the vaccine in the lab. Only,” said Bowling.


The current version was created primarily for people working in laboratories and in case of a recurrence of smallpox.

“People remember long ago had a skin reaction they called the take, and had to use it to prevent the virus from infecting others in the house.” There were all these safety instructions that weren’t there. With this new vaccine, you don’t have to worry about such things,” Bowling said.

So the big question is, does the old smallpox vaccine protect against monkeypox?

“That’s a great question. In short, we don’t know. It’s not really a satisfying answer,” Bowling said.

Bowling said the booster was recommended for older vaccines about 10 years later.

“So if we started vaccinating people in 1972, we would actually have a lot of people going through that period. Having said that, there might still be some protection left.” Bowling explained.


The problem is that it is difficult to determine how much protection still exists.

Be careful

That’s why we label it.”Be careful” to the KSAT trust index.

Bowling makes a definitive suggestion if you are eligible for vaccination, i.e. if you come into contact with monkeypox.

“If you’ve been exposed to a case of monkeypox, even if you’ve been vaccinated against smallpox in the past, you’ll likely benefit from getting the new vaccine.”

Currently, very few people are eligible for the vaccine because the supply of the vaccine is in short supply.

“I know a lot of people are wondering if they should get it now. It’s not recommended for everyone and not everyone is at risk right now,” Bowling said.

Texas A&M epidemiologist explains how MonkeyPox is transmitted

Those at greatest risk of infection are those who have prolonged close contact or direct skin-to-skin contact with someone else who is infected.


Currently, the main route of transmission is through direct contact during sexual activity. So monkeypox is not a traditional sexually transmitted disease, but experts report that this is a situation where people come into contact for a long time, and prolonged skin-to-skin contact usually facilitates transmission. People who live in the same household or who share bedding, towels, drinks, and utensils with an infected person are also at risk.

Bexar County was initially given 1,000 doses of the vaccine and is now on a waiting list for boosters.

“Recommendations for who should be vaccinated are subject to change. However, at this time, we are not yet aware of any plans to make general comprehensive recommendations for publication to all. They just haven’t seen such a rapid spread so far,” Bowling said.

There are multiple stages of vaccine eligibility.

Priority group 1 Includes exposed individuals identified through contact tracing.


Priority group 2 Includes people with presumed exposure.

  • Know that your sexual partner has been diagnosed with monkeypox in the last 14 days

  • Attended an event or venue in the past 14 days and was at increased risk of coming into contact with a person confirmed to have monkeypox, either through skin-to-skin or sexual contact

Priority group 3 include

  • people living with HIV

  • People taking PrEP for HIV prevention

Note: Vaccine Priority group 3 Only those who meet the above criteria and who do not have symptoms of monkeypox are available by appointment from selected health care providers. Check with your healthcare provider to see if a vaccine is available.

In the meantime, experts say, in areas where infection is higher, limit direct skin contact with widely shared public spaces such as public transport seats, benches and other high-touch surfaces. This can be easily accomplished by wearing longer pants and sleeves instead of shorts or tank tops. Enhanced hand hygiene throughout the day is also recommended.

For more information about monkeypox in our area, visit the San Antonio Metro Health website. monkeypox section.


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