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Monkeypox: 'If you're over 51, you may already be protected' – Dr Michael Mosley explains

Doctor, journalist and author, Dr Michael Mosley, revealed anyone over the age of 51 is likely to be safe from monkeypox – presuming they were jabbed against smallpox in their youth. Writing as part of his column for the Daily Mail he said: “One bit of good news, at least if you are over 51 years old, is that you may already be protected against monkeypox by the smallpox vaccine, which, until 1971, was routinely given to young children (the vaccines were stopped when smallpox was no longer considered a risk in the UK). Smallpox is related to monkeypox and studies suggest that the vaccines for smallpox also offer 85 per cent protection against monkeypox.”

In most cases monkeypox treatment is supportive, rather than medicinal as – according to the NHS – it is “usually mild and most people recover within a few weeks without treatment”.

However, antiviral drugs cidofovir and tecovirimat, along with the smallpox vaccine can be used to control outbreaks of monkeypox.

Government advice on monkeypox says: “Vaccination against smallpox can be used for both pre and post-exposure and is up to 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.

“People vaccinated against smallpox in childhood may experience a milder disease.”

READ MORE: Monkeypox: Individuals with condition should not have sex

Dr Mosley added: “What is particularly impressive is that decades later, when people who were inoculated (against smallpox) as babies are re-tested, they still show a strong protective antibody response to smallpox (the record so far is someone who was inoculated more than 90 years ago).

“This could help explain why the majority of cases of monkeypox have been in people under 50.

“So a big thanks to my parents for getting me inoculated.”

If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear.


“Monkeypox can be caught from infected rodents (such as rats, mice and squirrels) in parts of west and central Africa.

“You can catch monkeypox from an infected animal if you’re bitten or you touch its blood, body fluids, spots, blisters or scabs.

“You’re extremely unlikely to have monkeypox if: you have not been in close contact (such as touching their skin or sharing bedding) with someone who has monkeypox or has monkeypox symptoms or you have not recently travelled to west or central Africa.”

If you start showing signs of monkeypox you are advised to stay at home and call 111 for advice.



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