The NHS is urging those invited to receive a monkeypox vaccine to get bitten and help protect themselves and the wider community.

Although the number of people catching the virus remains low, the vaccine is offered to groups most at risk to help reduce the spread of infection.

Vaccination by University Hospital Sussex NHS Trust is taking place through sexual health clinics in Brighton and West Sussex by invitation only.

Since monkeypox is caused by a virus similar to smallpox, smallpox vaccines are expected to prevent or reduce the severity of infection and are offered to groups at risk.

The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) currently recommends that vaccination should be offered to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men most at risk of exposure, people who have ever been in close contact with a patient with monkeypox and health care workers caring for and due to begin care for a patient with the virus.

Currently, only a specific group already known to sexual health services and considered to be at high risk of contracting monkeypox are explicitly invited at this stage in Sussex.

Vaccination against monkeypox is currently by invitation only for groups most at risk

Dr Emma Rutland, sexual health consultant for Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust, said: ‘Those most at risk are being offered the monkeypox vaccine.

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

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

The UKHSA has purchased over 100,000 additional doses of smallpox vaccine, enabling more people to be vaccinated to prevent infection and limit transmission.

Additional doses are expected to arrive this month, with more expected in September.

The UK had previously purchased nearly 30,000 doses to enable the NHS to start rolling out the vaccination program for those most likely to catch monkeypox.

Up to August 1, there were 2,759 confirmed and highly probable cases of monkeypox across the UK, with 233 reported in south-east England.

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This notice was published: 2022-08-05 04:00:00