Vaccines to be rolled out to more Brits as monkeypox outbreak spreads – are you eligible? | The Sun

Vaccines to be rolled out to more Brits as monkeypox outbreak spreads – are you eligible? | The Sun

June 21, 2022

A VACCINE to combat monkeypox is set to be offered out more widely to help control the current outbreak.

The smallpox shot is currently being used for people who have been in contact with infected people.


But the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has today revealed that some gay and bisexual men at higher risk of exposure to monkeypox should be offered jabs.

New guidance states that eligibility would depend on a number of factors.

This, the UKHSA says, would be similar to those eligible for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – but applied regardless of HIV status.

Medics and health care professionals may advise a jab for someone who:

  • has multiple sex partners
  • participates in group sex
  • attends ‘sex on premises’ venues

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The decision on jabs comes after it was today revealed cases of the illness jumped 38 per cent since last week.

As of June 20, there are 793 confirmed infections in the UK.

Of these cases, 766 are in England, 18 are in Scotland, three are in Northern Ireland and six are in Wales.

In recent weeks around 2,103 cases have been detected globally, the most recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) states.

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This is something experts say is 'concerning'.

In the US, 113 cases have been confirmed, with New York and California being the worst hit places.

Anyone can get the illness – more so if you have been in contact or had sexual contact with a person who has symptoms.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA said extensive contact tracing work has help stopped the spread of the bug.

However, she added that medics are continuing to see a large proportion of cases in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

She added: "By expanding the vaccine offer to those at higher risk, we hope to break chains of transmission and help contain the outbreak.

"Although most cases are mild, severe illness can occur in some people, so it is important we use the available vaccine to target groups where spread is ongoing.

"The NHS will soon set out details on how this will be delivered – so do not come forward for the vaccine yet."

In the meantime, she said that everyone should continue to be alert to any new spots, ulcers or blisters on any part of their body, particularly if they’ve had close contact with a new partner.

"If you think you have these symptoms, avoid close contact with others and call NHS 111 or your local sexual health centre, though please phone ahead before attending," Dr Ramsey added.

The signs of monkeypox you need to know

Experts at the UK Health Security Agency have said all Brits should be on the look out for key signs and symptoms.

The signs may include:

  1. Fever
  2. Headache
  3. Muscle aches
  4. Backache
  5. Chills
  6. Exhaustion
  7. Night sweats
  8. Cold-like symptoms, such as congestion and runny nose
  9. Swollen lymph nodes
  10. Swollen groin
  11. Rash

Medics said that complications of the illness were documented as:

  • low mood
  • severe pain
  • conjunctivitis

The newest data set, released by the UKHSA today also gave a breakdown of how many cases are in each region.

In London, 498 cases have been detected, followed by the South East, with 37.

The North West has 26, the East, 20, with both the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber having 12 cases.

In the East Midlands there have been 8 confirmed, in the South West 6 and in the North East five.

There are 142 cases under investigation in England – which means their addresses have not yet been confirmed, which in turn could make contact tracing difficult.

Around 80 per cent of the infections have been found in London residents, with 624 having a reported home address.

Where gender information has been accessible, 99 per cent of cases have been confirmed to be in male – with five confirmed in females.

The median age is 37-years-old.

Health Promotion Specialist at Terrence Higgins Trust, Alex Sparrow said the targeted vaccination programme is a positive move.

"Data still shows monkeypox is disproportionately affecting gay and bisexual men in the UK.

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"We encourage everyone, regardless of their sexuality, to be vigilant about new spots, ulcers and blisters.

"We are continuing to closely monitor the latest data in order to play our part in providing the latest guidance and health information on monkeypox, to empower the communities most affected to best protect their health."

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