The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that the vaccine supply for the targeted monkeypox vaccination programme for gay and bisexual men is to run out for a number of weeks. An additional 100,000 doses will be arriving in the UK from the end of September but we know this is a worrying time for many.
The vaccination programme is prioritising gay and bisexual men at the highest risk of monkeypox as data shows that the vast majority of cases are within this group. This also includes trans people who meet the criteria for vaccination. But once current doses have run out, sexual health clinics will no longer be able to vaccinate people until September’s shipment is delivered and dispatched regionally to clinics.
Unfortunately, you may receive a message from your clinic cancelling a booked vaccination appointment if they have no more vaccine left. Where clinics are running pop-up events, we expect them to be busy and close when they have no more vaccine left.
The current priority is to give as many eligible people as possible some immunity to the virus. That means priority will be given to people who need first doses when new vaccine arrives in the UK rather than delivering second doses. The UKHSA is currently reviewing if vulnerable people – including eligible people living with HIV – need a second dose.
Protecting against monkeypox
If you have not been vaccinated, we will update you via our website and social media with the latest information as we get it. In the meantime, you can protect yourself from monkeypox by:
- Being aware of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox.
- Talking about symptoms with your sexual partners.
- Changing your sexual behaviours until you are able to receive the vaccine.
Avoid sex if you or your sexual partners show any signs of monkeypox, including:
- Any new unexpected or unexplained rash, spots, ulcers or blisters anywhere on your body.
- You may only notice one, or a few spots. You may also have ulcers inside your mouth or throat.
- Fever, chills, headache, exhaustion, muscle aches, joint pain, backache, and swollen glands.
- Pain or bleeding in the rectum or anus.
You should be especially alert to any of these symptoms if you have recently had sex with a new, or multiple partners.
Please contact your local sexual health clinic by phone if you think you have symptoms of monkeypox.
You may decide to continue having sex while you wait for more vaccine to arrive. As well as being alert to monkeypox symptoms, you might want to reduce the number of people you have sex with and share contact details with them in case you find out you have monkeypox afterwards. You may also consider favouring well-lit environments so you and your partners can easily identify any spots or ulcers.
It is a good idea to avoid having sex if you do not feel well.
Should I attend Pride events?
Most people who have been diagnosed with monkeypox have recently had sex with someone who had it. That means they were in prolonged, close contact with them. Casual contact in social situations is much less likely to pass on monkeypox.
If you do not feel well, and you are showing any of the signs or symptoms of monkeypox you should stay at home.