Last month, the World Health Organisation declared the monkeypox outbreak to be a global health emergency. As of August 1, there have been 2,672 confirmed cases in the country and the UK government has cranked up its vaccination programme, acquiring 100,000 doses to curb the spread of the virus.
Since monkeypox is caused by a virus similar to smallpox, it is expected that the smallpox vaccine (AKA the Modified Vaccinia Ankara vaccination) will prevent or reduce the severity of the infection. The MVA is currently being offered by the NHS to people most at risk from monkeypox – and while this is undoubtedly good news, there’s still only a limited supply of the vaccine around. It’s a two-dose treatment, so for now, one dose is being offered to those at highest risk.
Can I get the monkeypox vaccination?
While anyone can get monkeypox, the majority of virus cases have been found in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. The UK Health Security Agency is currently recommending that the MVA is offered to three different priority groups:
• Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, whose doctor or nurse will advise a vaccination if they’re considered to be high risk. Some sexual health services will also contact men that are likely to be at high risk, such as those who have had a recent sexually transmitted infection. Transgender women who have sex with bisexual men, or men who have sex with men, are also eligible for the vaccine.
• Healthcare workers who are caring for and due to start caring for a patient with confirmed monkeypox, including staff in sexual health clinics who are assessing suspected cases.
• People who have had close contact with a patient with confirmed monkeypox.
When more vaccine supply becomes available, people outside of these initial groups will be considered for the vaccination.
Where can I get the monkeypox vaccination?
The MVA vaccination is free and is only currently available to eligible groups, with vaccines minister Maggie Throup urging people to wait for their turn to be invited to receive their jabs.
There are more than 18 clinics offering vaccinations in London, including the Dean Street sexual health clinic in Soho, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Guy’s Hospital in Southwark, Mortimer Market Centre in Camden and Barking Hospital Outpatient Centre East.
The vaccine is being offered in some specialist sexual health clinics around the country and for healthcare workers from their employer. You can find your local NHS clinic here or stay at home and call 111 for advice if you’re having trouble getting in contact.
You should stay at home, avoid close contact with other people and call a sexual health clinic if you have a rash with blisters, anal pain or bleeding from your bottom and have either: been in close contact with someone who has or might have had monkeypox in the past three weeks, have had one or more new sexual partners in the past three weeks, or have been to west or central Africa in the past three weeks.
Find out all the latest information about the monkeypox vaccine here.