NHS offers monkeypox vaccine to those at most risk

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The NHS in Sussex is urging people who have been invited to receive a vaccination against monkeypox to take up the offer, helping to protect themselves and the wider community.

Although the number of people catching monkeypox overall remains low and the risk of catching monkeypox is extremely low, the vaccine is being made more widely available to those at risk to help also reduce spread of the infection.

University Hospital Sussex is providing vaccination via Sexual Health clinics in Brighton and West Sussex by invitation only.

Sexual health services are providing vaccination to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) at highest risk of acquiring monkeypox. This is a very specific group who are already known to services and are being explicitly invited. Not all GBMSM are currently being invited for vaccination as yet, the focus being on a specific group due to their increased risk.

The NHS is reminding people that the vaccine takes time to work. The first dose of vaccine gives limited protection, not complete protection, and can take two weeks to develop response.  In the meantime, gay and bisexual men should be aware of the risks and symptoms of monkeypox and be careful when attending events and situations where close contact may occur.

The vaccine is only being offered to those people who are likely to have very close or frequent contact with cases. By offering vaccine to these individuals, it is hoped that spread of the infection will be curtailed, reducing the risk to everyone.

UKHSA currently recommends that MVA is offered to:

  • Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) at highest risk of exposure.
  • People who have already had close contact with a patient with confirmed monkeypox.
  • Healthcare workers who are caring for and who are due to start caring for a patient with confirmed monkeypox

Dr Emma Rutland, sexual health consultant for University Hospital Sussex NHS Trust said:

 “Those at most risk are being offered the vaccine against monkeypox.

“Please wait to be invited – anyone who believes they are eligible for the vaccination should wait to be contacted.

“Once more vaccine supply becomes available, people outside of these initial groups will be considered.”