Surge in people getting chickenpox vaccine amid monkeypox confusion

·2-min read
Stock image of a pharmacy  (PA Archive)
Stock image of a pharmacy (PA Archive)

The number of people getting a chickenpox vaccine has more than doubled in the last six weeks, amid confusion of whether it will protect them against monkeypox.

Well Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy chain, said it had seen a 146 per cent increase in the number of people getting jabbed for chickenpox.

This has prompted the pharmacy to issue guidance on the difference between the current monkeypox outbreak and chickenpox.

While the two conditions can appear similar and share multiple symptoms, Well Pharmacy has warned they have key differences and are caused by two different viruses.

Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the Orthopoxviral genus.

The current outbreak of monkeypox saw UK case numbers rise to 190 on Tuesday, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

However, the more commonly known chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which can also cause shingles.

The pharmacy is urging people to remain alert, but not to panic.

Ifti Khan, Well Pharmacy Superintendent, said: “We know that this current spate of monkeypox is concerning, especially as we are still living with Covid, and the memory of lockdown is still so recent.

“We would urge people to of course remain alert, but not to panic.

“Chickenpox and monkeypox are similar in the way they are spread, via close contact and respiratory droplets, as well as direct contact with contaminated objects, but monkeypox is much rarer and spreads less easily.

“The important thing to remember is that the chickenpox vaccine will not protect people from monkeypox, but it is still important to protect yourself against chickenpox, especially in adulthood when it can often be far more severe.”

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection usually associated with travel to West and central Africa.

The stages of a monkeypox lesion (PA Media)
The stages of a monkeypox lesion (PA Media)

It is usually mild and most people recover in a few weeks.

Symptoms include fever, headaches, swellings, aches and exhaustion, as well as lesions forming on the skin.

An itchy, spotty rash is the main symptom of chickenpox which can form anywhere on the body.

The rash happens in three stages which starts with small spots appearing, before blistering and then scabbing.

While the monkeypox rash looks similar to chickenpox, there are subtle differences.

Monkeypox usually occurs within one to three days of a fever.

There are several stages to monkeypox. The first developing into papules and fluid filled pustules before forming a scab and falling off.

Chickenpox usually forms in a different way.

In a chickenpox rash the spots do not develop uniformly and appear at different times. However, monkeypox lesions appear and develop at the same time.

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