The federal government has launched a new national advertising campaign to promote monkeypox vaccination to a “post-Covid and vaccine-fatigued audience”.
The health minister, Mark Butler, will also announce on Monday that a second shipment of almost 40,000 vials of the monkeypox vaccine Jynneos has arrived in Australia and will be made available through the states and territories.
More than 140 cases of monkeypox have been reported in Australia since May, including 69 in Victoria, 55 in New South Wales, seven in Western Australia and five in Queensland.
Despite only one case being notified last month, health advocates are emphasising the need for vigilance.
The federal government said in a statement that vaccination remained important, “particularly as we head into summer and WorldPride events which will see many international visitors to Australia” in early 2023.
The new campaign, titled “Prick – Pause – Play”, was developed by Emen8, a national digital HIV prevention and sexual health resource for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. It covers symptoms, risk factors, prevention and vaccination.
Butler said it was important for those at higher risk of monkeypox infection “to look out for symptoms, seek urgent medical help they might have been exposed, and to get vaccinated if eligible”.
“We are in a very good position to prevent further transmission of monkeypox in Australia,” he said, citing the vaccine orders.
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ACON in NSW and Thorne Harbour Health in Victoria were both involved in the campaign.
The chief executive of Thorne, Simon Ruth, said the campaign’s bold visuals would “command attention from a post-Covid, vaccine-fatigued audience and deliver timely health information”.
“When our communities see themselves and their lives reflected in an upbeat message – that resonates with them,” Ruth said. “While MPX [monkeypox] can affect anyone, the reality is that our communities of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are being disproportionally impacted.”
The chief executive of ACON, Nicolas Parkhill, warned against complacency in the lead-up to summer.
“If you develop any symptoms, particularly an unusual rash, lesions or sores, seek medical attention by calling ahead to your GP or local sexual health clinic,” Parkhill said.
Australia has ordered 450,000 vials in total of Jynneos, a third-generation smallpox vaccine that is also effective against monkeypox, the federal government says.
Of these, 100,000 are due to be delivered by the end of this year and the remaining 350,000 will be rolled out next year.
The first batch of vaccines arrived in August and nearly 25,000 people at the highest risk have received their first dose.
The Australian Federation of Aids Organisations (AFAO) welcomed the arrival of the next batch of 40,000 vaccines and encouraged all those eligible to take up the free vaccines.
“So far, we have not seen a rapid spread of the virus in Australia,” the AFAO chief executive, Darryl O’Donnell, said.
“However, with the warmer months and forthcoming pride events, case numbers may very well increase, so it’s important that we continue to raise awareness of MPX along with strategies to prevent infection, including getting the vaccine.”