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Guatemala stopped vaccinating against smallpox in the 1980s

“The world and all its inhabitants have been freed from smallpox”, that was the declaration that was made at the 33rd World Health Assembly in May 1980. Guatemala was also free of the disease, and since then, it is no longer vaccinate the population against smallpox.

Rafael Ciraiz, a veterinarian, epidemiologist and responsible for the surveillance of zoonotic diseases in the Department of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health, mentions that it is likely that those who received the vaccine have a certain level of protection or immunity against monkeypox. However, studies are needed to reinforce it.

Dr. Andrea Vicari, director of Health Emergencies at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said last week that there are second- and third-generation vaccines initially developed for smallpox that could be used for monkeypox.

However, the evidence on its efficacy and safety is limited and its availability on the world market is also limited. It is not a recommended biological like the one applied against covid-19.

Vicari pointed out that, although the vaccine can be an important instrument to control transmission, there are other measures to interrupt the spread such as the use of a mask, distancing, hand washing, among others.

“There is no recommendation for mass vaccination of the general population at this time, the risk is low. It seems unlikely to me that we will ever require it,” he added.

Francisco Coma, Minister of Health, pointed out the country’s intention to obtain the vaccine, but it is a possibility that depends on the availability of the biological for the countries, as has happened with the acquisition of vaccines against covid-19.

Lorena Gobern, head of the Department of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health, mentioned this Thursday at a press conference that the monkeypox vaccine costs US$150 per dose and requires two, if they become available they would be applied to close contacts of confirmed cases.

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