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Second dose of monkeypox vaccine offered to those at highest risk

A second dose of the monkeypox vaccine is being offered to those who are classed as high risk.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced that second doses of the smallpox (Jynneos) vaccine will be available to protect those who are particularly vulnerable to contracting the monkeypox virus.

The government says that sexual health clinics will continue to "prioritise offering first doses to those at highest risk", while some clinics begin to offer eligible people a second dose to provide longer-term protection.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has endorsed UKHSA’s plans to offer a second dose to those who require it. There are currently no plans to widen the offer of vaccination beyond the existing priority cohorts, though this decision will be kept under review, the government says.

"The NHS will call forward those that are eligible for vaccination," the UKSHA said in an announcement. "Second doses will be offered from around 2 to 3 months after the first dose to maximise protection."

The UKSHA said that as of 20 September, more than 45,000 people have received a dose of the vaccine including over 40,000 gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men who are at highest risk of exposure.

As of 16 September, there are 3,585 confirmed and highly probable cases of monkeypox in the UK - the number of cases has decreased throughout August and continues to fall, with less than 15 cases per day on average in early September.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, Deputy Director, Public Health Programmes at UKHSA said:

"It’s encouraging that we’re continuing to see fewer cases of monkeypox reported in the UK and we are grateful to everyone who has followed advice about potential symptoms, isolated as part of this outbreak or come forward for a vaccination to help limit transmission.

"Prioritising vaccine stock where possible for second doses for those at highest risk will help us maximise protection and interrupt transmission. When you are called forward for vaccination, please take up the offer.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, chair of the JCVI, said:

"The JCVI has endorsed the UKHSA’s proposal that vaccination to protect against monkeypox should continue to be prioritised for those at highest risk of exposure to the virus, including offering second doses to individuals once they become eligible.

"This approach will ensure the globally-limited supplies are used most effectively, continuing to break chains of transmission, as well as providing those at highest risk of exposure with longer-lasting protection.

"The use of the intradermal vaccination method at some clinics also means more doses can be drawn from the vials, helping to maximise the reach of the UK’s supplies and ensure second doses for all those eligible. The JCVI will keep the offer of monkeypox vaccination under review to ensure it continues to have the maximum impact on the current outbreak."

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