Vaccinations against mpox (formerly known as monkey pox) are being extended in London following a recent cluster of cases, mainly affecting people who had not received any vaccinations, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced on 16 June.
The mpox outbreak vaccination programme was due to come to a close at the end of July. However, vaccinations will now continue to be available to the end of September in London after 13 new cases were diagnosed within the past few weeks. Half of these cases were in unvaccinated individuals and three were in those who had only received one dose.
Professor Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at UKHSA, said: “I would urge all those who haven’t yet received their first or second dose to come forward.
“While mpox infection is mild for many, it can cause severe symptoms including unusual rashes and blisters, a fever and headache, so it’s important people remain alert to the risks. Vaccination is key to reducing the severity of symptoms and preventing further transmission.”
Cases remain low but there is a need to remain vigilant
Case numbers remain low nationwide with just 21 cases of mpox reported in the UK since the beginning of the year. Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: “Thanks to the swift action taken to roll out mpox vaccines to the most vulnerable, overall cases across the country have been very low in recent months.
“However, we must remain vigilant, and in light of the recent cases in London, it is right to extend the mpox vaccination programme in the capital until the end of September for first and second doses.
“Please do not delay coming forward for the maximum protection. Visit a sexual health clinic offering the vaccination to reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill.”
Dr Claire Dewsnap, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: “We strongly encourage all those eligible to book an appointment to receive an mpox vaccination, especially given the worrying recent spike in cases.
“One dose of the vaccine provides protection against the virus and the second dose can further prevent severe symptoms and transmission. This is particularly important as we move into the summer months, during which festivals and events are more common, increasing the likelihood for people to have multiple sexual partners.
“Contact your local sexual health clinic and ask about the mpox vaccine, or if you have an existing appointment please do use this opportunity to find out more about mpox vaccination. Protect yourself by booking your mpox vaccination today.”
Who is eligible for the mpox vaccination
Everyone at highest risk from mpox is eligible for two doses of the vaccine; UKHSA data has shown that one dose of the vaccine offers 78% protection against the virus from 14 days after receiving it, and the second dose aims to provide longer term protection.
Those eligible for the vaccine include gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men who have multiple sexual partners, participate in group sex or attend sex on premises venues. Staff who work in these premises are also eligible.
Find your nearest mpox vaccination site
To find your nearest mpox vaccination site, please visit the site finder: Sexual Health London MPox Vaccination Clinic Finder