Photo/Illutration An electron microscope shows monkeypox virions. (Provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Although there have been no cases of monkeypox confirmed in Japan, the health ministry will discuss administering the smallpox vaccine to health care workers as a precautionary measure. 

The ministry’s panel of experts revealed the plan during a meeting held on June 29 to protect health care workers likely to come into contact with monkeypox patients should any emerge here.

Workers at public health centers who are willing will also receive the vaccine, the ministry said.

Citing that many monkeypox patients abroad have had mild symptoms, some panel members said information on the vaccine's side effects must be provided and guidelines to evaluate the risks of the vaccine must be established.

The government has stocked the smallpox vaccine, which is believed to be 85 percent effective at reducing monkeypox symptoms.

The vaccine is also expected to help prevent patients from developing severe symptoms.

It is recommended for health care workers in the United States, where monkeypox infections have spread.

The ministry has also launched a specific clinical study on a drug for smallpox, called Tecovirimat, at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine to use it for monkeypox patients.

The drug has been used in Europe.

The ministry said it is also considering launching the study at other health care organizations located in major cities.