Mpox vaccination programme to be wound down; those still eligible urged to come forward

Graham Robson March 22, 2023

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced the monkeypox (mpox) vaccination programme can be wound down following a “sustained reduction in mpox case numbers across England and the success of vaccination in helping to control the outbreak”. Anyone eligible for mpox vaccination is urged to come forward for the vaccine in the coming months to protect themselves before the summer.

First doses remain available for gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (GBMSM) at highest risk from mpox until June 16 with second doses available until the end of July.

The UKHSA has said it will continue to closely monitor case numbers and will retain the ability to stand up the vaccination programme if the risk of infection rises significantly.

Mpox cases have fallen across the UK from a high of 350 per week in July 2022 to six new cases so far from the start of 2023. Three people acquired mpox in the UK and three were returning travellers.

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 provides longer term protection.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, Deputy Director of Public Health Programmes at UKHSA, said: “Whilst mpox infection is mild for many, it can cause severe symptoms for some so it’s important people remain alert to the risks. Vaccination is key to reducing the severity of symptoms and preventing further transmission. Uptake of first doses has been strong but only around a third of those who have received their first dose have had their second dose so far.

“I would urge everyone that’s eligible to come forward for both doses so they have maximum long lasting protection

“I’d like to thank the NHS, public health professionals and third sector organisations, in particular their frontline staff, who sprang into action and worked hard to bring down mpox cases significantly. UKHSA will monitor cases of mpox very closely and will re-establish the vaccination programme if we need to.”