Prevention of monkeypox with vaccines: a rapid review

Gregory A. Poland, Richard B. Kennedy, Pritish K. Tosh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The largest outbreak of monkeypox in history began in May, 2022, and has rapidly spread across the globe ever since. The purpose of this Review is to briefly describe human immune responses to orthopoxviruses; provide an overview of the vaccines available to combat this outbreak; and discuss the various clinical data and animal studies evaluating protective immunity to monkeypox elicited by vaccinia virus-based smallpox vaccines, address ongoing concerns regarding the outbreak, and provide suggestions for the appropriate use of vaccines as an outbreak control measure. Data showing clinical effectiveness (~85%) of smallpox vaccines against monkeypox come from surveillance studies conducted in central Africa in the 1980s and later during outbreaks in the same area. These data are supported by a large number of animal studies (primarily in non-human primates) with live virus challenge by various inoculation routes. These studies uniformly showed a high degree of protection and immunity against monkeypox virus following vaccination with various smallpox vaccines. Smallpox vaccines represent an effective countermeasure that can be used to control monkeypox outbreaks. However, smallpox vaccines do cause side-effects and the replication-competent, second-generation vaccines have contraindications. Third-generation vaccines, although safer for use in immunocompromised populations, require two doses, which is an impediment to rapid outbreak response. Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic should be used to inform our collective response to this monkeypox outbreak and to future outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e349-e358
JournalThe Lancet Infectious Diseases
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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