PH working with US govt to get vaccines vs monkeypox

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29)— The Philippines is in talks with the United States government to obtain vaccines for monkeypox, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

“Discussions are ongoing,” Health Undersecretary Beverly Ho said in a briefing in Malacañang on the same day the agency reported the first case of the disease in the country.

Ho also noted that there will be a “select population group” which will be prioritized for the vaccine rollout should the government get the in-demand shots.

“There’s not a lot that’s available in the market,” Ho bared. “Also that it’s only a select population group that will have to be vaccinated. It’s not like COVID that all of us need to be vaccinated."

The Philippines’ first case of monkeypox is a 31-year-old Filipino who arrived from abroad on July 19. Specific details were not divulged, but the DOH said the patient is undergoing isolation and monitoring at home.

Monkeypox— symptoms of which include fever, headache, muscle weakness, and rashes — was earlier declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as public health emergency of international concern.

WHO said the monkeypox virus is spread among humans by close contact with an infected person’s lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.

READ: What is monkeypox, and how can you stay safe?

There is no known specific treatment for the viral infection, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the agency said that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed for smallpox may also be used to treat monkeypox.

Systems in place

Despite this new development, the DOH vowed systems and protocols are in place to help curb the spread of the disease.

Ho said inbound travelers are asked health screening questions before they can enter the country. Airport temperature checks are also in place to check for possible fever among passengers.

She added efforts are ongoing to check for symptoms of rashes.

“Kung mga naka-jacket, pwede silang papatanggal ‘yung jacket (If they’re wearing jackets, perhaps we can ask them to remove). But then this would be probably the most difficult to screen from afar,” Ho noted.

The agency advised the public to remain vigilant, especially “the key population groups who are at most risk.”

"There is a very clear need to be more careful about who we interact with, particularly sexual intimate contact." Ho added.