Chicago Tribune/TNS/ABACA

Mounting monkeypox vaccine tourism to France

Dozens of Belgians have flocked to the northern French city of Lille in recent days with a view to getting the monkeypox jab.  The vaccine is more readily available south of the border and the French have larger stocks.

In France conditions on getting the vaccine are not as strict as in Belgium.  France’s high council for health recommends that people at high risk of infection are vaccinated as a precaution.  Men who have sex with men, transgenders with various partners and sex workers all qualify.

In Belgium the groups that qualify for the vaccine are smaller: men who have sex with men who themselves are seropositive for HIV or are receiving HIV-Prep therapy AND who have acquired two STIs during the past year.

Also: male and transgender sex workers, people with immunodeficiencies and a high risk of infection as well as lab staff working with the virus.

In all the French are making 74,000 doses available. In Belgium only 3,040 doses are available till October.  A further 30,000 doses become available in the fall.  As a result Belgium has restricted the number of people who qualify for the jab.

Sensoa, the centre of expertise for sexual health, isn’t encouraging the vaccine tourism to France, but understands why people are doing it.

“It illustrates how large the demand for the vaccine is and the willingness of gay men to protect themselves and the people close to them” says Boris Cruyssaert.

There is great concern in the gay community says Cruyssaert: “We notice a lot of questions on social media and refer people to the website of the Institute of Tropical Medicine”.

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