UK to get 100,000 more monkeypox vaccines as immunisation efforts stepped up
The UK will receive around 100,000 doses of smallpox vaccine to treat monkeypox, following reports the country is poised to run out.
Vaccines will be arriving in the UK in September. It comes after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced there are only around 5,000 doses of the jab left.
The UKHSA announced that while 150,000 doses have been procured, only 50,000 have been delivered due to supply issues.
Latest figures released by the UKHSA confirmed that more than 25,000 people have been vaccinated, as part of a strategy to contain monkeypox in the UK.
Outbreak figures have shown signs of monkeypox transmission slowing, with 29 cases a day now confirmed on average (latest data 1 – 7 August), compared to 52 cases a day during the last week in June.
However, health services have been urged to remain vigilant.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, said: “The most important way to protect those who are more likely to get monkeypox and to limit the outbreak is to ensure that all the vaccines available to us are in people’s arms as quickly as possible and are building protection across the community.
“I’d like to thank all those who have isolated as part of this outbreak in order to limit transmission of the virus, the thousands of people who have come forward for vaccination and all those in the NHS and sexual health services who have ensured the rapid delivery of the available vaccine – this has strengthened our response to the current outbreak and should interrupt chains of transmission.”
Thousands of cases of the illness have been recorded in the UK, with the majority transmitted between gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with other men.
Vaccination experts have recommended that gay and bisexual men be offered the smallpox jab Imvanex.
Ian Green, chief executive of sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “There needs to be urgent action to salvage this situation. We know many gay and bisexual men will be worried by news of vaccine supplies running low and our advice to them is please do not panic.
“It’s crucial we have transparency from the UKHSA about what’s happened and when we can expect more doses to reach the country, as the vaccine programme is absolutely crucial to getting on top of the monekypox outbreak."
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He added: “The very limited doses of vaccine we have left in the country must now be prioritised for those most at risk in the places with the highest reported cases.
“That means ensuring sexual health services in places like Brighton, Manchester and Essex are given provision alongside London.
“It’s high time we got a proper grip on the monkeypox response and for that we need to see this taken seriously at the highest level of Government.”