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Immunologist breaks down mechanism behind monkeypox vaccine

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Monkeypox cases are accelerating. According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a total of 11,177 total confirmed cases. Seventy-eight are in Indiana. 

This has residents lining up to get the vaccine. As they roll up their sleeves, some Hoosiers may be wondering what exactly is being injected into their body.

Immunologist Dr. David Lo tells News 8 there are two types of vaccines. One is an engineered version of the smallpox virus. Once injected, the synthetic version replicates in the body triggering the body to mount protection. 

“The second engineered version has antigens,” Lo said. “Again, it is designed to mount an immune response and protect you against smallpox or monkeypox.”

This version of the shot, he says, activates what are called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes bind, attack and destroy the circulating virus upon infection. 

Lo goes on to say the monkeypox vaccines are not specific to monkeypox. They are used for smallpox and other viruses. However, both viruses are members of the same group. Therefore they are effective.