According to the head of the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko), Thomas Mertens, preventive vaccination of risk groups against monkeypox could be useful. “We are currently thinking about this,” Mertens told the “Rheinische Post” on Wednesday.

In contrast to the classic smallpox vaccination, no side effects are to be expected with the modern vaccine. Vaccination of the entire population is “very unlikely”.

When first vaccinated with the classic smallpox vaccine, one of around 20,000 vaccinated people developed meningitis. “The current vaccine – and only this one is an option – is much better tolerated,” said Mertens. The vaccine virus cannot multiply further after vaccination in humans.

Older people who have been vaccinated against smallpox are also vaccinated against monkeypox, according to the Stiko boss. “A certain protection probably lasts for life,” said Mertens. Although the vaccination protection is not complete, it at least protects against serious diseases.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had called for isolation for at least 21 days for people infected with monkeypox on Tuesday at the Doctors’ Day in Bremen. In addition, the symptoms must have healed before the measure can be ended.

The German Aidshilfe criticized the communication of the Federal Ministry of Health, according to which monkeypox primarily affects men who have sex with other men. Against this background, terms such as “risk group” must be avoided at all costs.

“Formulations such as ‘risk group’ have a stigmatizing effect, the simplistic mention of anonymous sex contacts serves a derogatory cliché – especially since monkeypox can also be transmitted without sex,” warned Holger Wicht from the Aidshilfe.

The word “risk group” has only been known to large parts of the population since the corona pandemic. However, gay men are reminded of a time when they were grossly stigmatized.