The first vaccinations against monkeypox, or vaiolo delle scimmie, were carried out in the Lazio region on Monday at Rome’s Spallazani hospital for infectious diseases.
The vaccination campaign will soon be extended to the three other Italian regions with the highest number of monkeypox cases: Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto.
A total of 4,200 jabs are available in Italy at the moment, according to national broadcaster Rai.
Italy has recorded just over 500 cases so far, though health authorities say the disease continues to spread.
Italy currently recommends vaccination for people in the following high-risk groups;
- laboratory staff at risk of possible direct exposure to orthopoxvirus
- gay, transgender, bisexual and other men who have sex with men
The World Health Organization said on Saturday that the monkeypox outbreak represents a global health emergency. So far this year, there have been more than 16,000 cases in more than 75 countries. Five deaths – all in Africa – have been linked to the virus.
First detected in humans in 1970, monkeypox is less dangerous and contagious than the eradicated smallpox virus, which it resembles, and an existing smallpox vaccine is being used against it.
See further details of the vaccination drive on the health ministry’s official website here or speak to your healthcare provider for more information.