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NHS steps up monkeypox vaccinations in London with 100,000 more doses

Vaccination in the UK has increased

More than 100,000 doses of an effective vaccine against the virus are being rolled out, with vaccination efforts focussed on London, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.

As of July 18, there were 2,137 confirmed cases of the virus in the UK, with 2,050 in England and the majority in the capital. While anyone can get monkeypox, the majority of UK cases continue to be in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

Vaccination experts have recommended that gay and bisexual men and others at higher risk of exposure to monkeypox should be offered the smallpox vaccine Imvanex.

While the vaccine is available across England, London will receive additional doses of the existing supply in an effort to break chains of transmission as quickly as possible.

NHS England said extra doses mean thousands more people in London who are eligible for a vaccine will now be contacted about getting jabbed. The public should wait to be contacted about a vaccine. More than 18 clinics are offering monkeypox vaccinations in London.

They include Dean Street sexual health clinic in Soho, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Guy’s Hospital in Southwark, Mortimer Market Centre in Camden and Barking Hospital Outpatient Centre East.

Steve Russell, NHS director of vaccinations, said: ‘While the risk of monkeypox remains very low and nearly every case we have seen so far has recovered quickly, over 2,000 people have been affected by the virus.

‘On the whole, the cases we are seeing are among gay and bisexual men or men who have sex with men, with a significant number coming from London and so it is vital that those who are most likely to get the virus get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

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‘The NHS is now scaling up its plans to get people vaccinated, particularly in London, thanks to the efforts of staff who are working hard to help stop onward spread, in line with UKHSA advice.’ Mr Russell said as vaccination efforts increased so would the number of clinics offering jabs.

‘Thousands more people will be invited very shortly with the number of clinics expanded too, and as we have done with the most successful Covid vaccination programme in history, the NHS will leave no stone unturned in ensuring everyone who is eligible can get protected,’ he added.

‘We are asking people to wait to be contacted and to come forward at the earliest opportunity possible when invited to get vaccinated.’ The NHS states initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high temperature, headache, muscle aches, swollen glands, shivering or chills and feeling exhausted.

A rash normally develops one to five days after the first symptoms. The rash often begins on the face before spreading to other parts of the body, including the genitals and anus.

The rash can sometimes be confused with chickenpox and starts with raised spots which turn into blisters before scabbing over.

Anyone with a rash with blisters or who has been in close contact with someone who has or might have monkeypox in the past three weeks is urged to contact a sexual health clinic.

People are asked to stay at home and avoid close contact with others, including sharing towels or bedding, until they’ve been told what to do.

Anyone who is concerned they may have been in close contact with someone with monkeypox or that they may have contracted the virus is asked to call a sexual health clinic before visiting in person, explaining the situation.

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