Despite the opening of 153 vaccination centers against monkeypox in France, the campaign is slipping and appointments remain difficult to win. The Ministry of Health has decided to launch this Wednesday the experimentation of vaccination in five pharmacies.
The government wants to step up the pace. If 153 vaccination centers have already been opened in France and 20,322 people vaccinated against monkeypox, getting an appointment quickly is becoming more and more complicated. With 2,423 cases recorded in France as of August 4, associations and elected officials have criticized the government, calling for the pace of vaccination to be accelerated. The Ministry of Health therefore announced Monday, August 8 the experiment in pharmacies.
In five pharmacies, located in Île-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and in Hauts-de-France, pharmacists will be able to administer the vaccine from Wednesday August 10 and for two weeks.
This experiment will test the “organizational models between the pharmacies and the hospitals which receive the doses”, explained the authorities. It will make it possible to assess the relevance of extending or not the vaccination campaign to other pharmacies.
For Gilles Pialoux, head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at the Tenon hospital (Paris), “quick solutions are needed, and one of them is to seek out pharmacies”. Because “the account is not there in terms of vaccination: at the current rate, it will take six months to vaccinate the entire target audience. And we cannot wait for December”, he assures.
“We know since Covid-19 that pharmacists know how to manage doses”
Currently, the target audience includes only men who have sex with men, individuals with multiple sexual partners, trans people, sex workers, professionals working in places of sexual consumption and staff. caregiver.
For the Ministry of Health, this experiment will make it possible to “evaluate if there is no loss of doses”. The smallpox vaccine presents several difficulties: it must imperatively be kept at a very low temperature (-80°C) and “can only be kept for fifteen days” once thawed, explains the ministry. The vaccines being packaged in boxes of twenty doses, they must therefore find takers quickly.
An argument refuted by Gilles Pialoux, also president of the French Society for the Fight against AIDS: “It is a pity that we only keep vaccination in pharmacies in the experimental phase for the moment. We already know since the Covid- 19 that pharmacists know very well how to vaccinate and manage the doses”.
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“There is no lack of doses, but a lack of arms”
According to Gilles Pialoux, the current slowness of vaccination is not due to a “lack of doses, but to a lack of arms” in France.
The weight of this new epidemic could “weigh on the public hospital, when we can no longer take it”, explains the doctor. “At the Tenon hospital, for example, we cannot receive more than ten people suffering from or suspected of having monkeypox. The procedure is long. It’s not like with Covid-19 where it is enough cotton in the nose to test: there is care, prevention, STI tests, you have to look for contacts and especially the different lesions, which can be very difficult to spot.
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A “combined prevention” in the face of a “complex disease”
Specialists also call not to rely only on vaccination. “We must apply combined prevention”, recommends Gilles Pialoux. “And also call for the reduction of risks, particularly in sexual relations, to improve screening and all the protocol that we had established with Covid-19 but which was released.”
The diagnosis also needs to be improved, according to the doctor, especially since it is “a very complex disease, with many different manifestations: in the field, we discovered that it could present as angina, or lesions in the nose, or even in the ears – all areas that are not targeted in sexual intercourse. Worse, there are French data which show that one infected person in ten has only one lesion in the body”, instead of a multitude of skin marks as “presented in medical textbooks”.
“The future of this epidemic depends on several questions: will the virus spread outside the current target? Will we be able to diversify the screening offer? And above all, there is a great communication work to be done, especially with the public”.
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