Malta has received its first doses of the Monkeypox vaccine, health minister Chris Fearne announced on Tuesday.

The vaccine will be offered free of charge to primary contacts of confirmed Monkeypox cases, he said in a tweet, adding that the doses were obtained via an EU joint procurement mechanism.

Malta is among 14 European countries that received the second allocation of the vaccine, because they have a low incidence of Monkeypox. Countries with a higher incidence received their lot last month.

Two doses of the vaccine are necessary.

Times of Malta is informed the vaccine will not be available commercially and it will remain free of charge, even if the authorities feel the need to expand its coverage in the future.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is usually linked to contact with wild animals in west and central Africa. Cases have been detected in the UK, Spain and Portugal as well as the United States over the past months.

Malta has so far recorded 30 Monkeypox cases since the start of the outbreak in May.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pains, back pain, swollen glands, chills and lethargy. A rash that starts on the face can also develop.

The health authorities urged the public to maintain hygiene but said infection "is rare and not easily transmitted".

The EU was the first to deploy the vaccine, along with the UK and US.

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