Gay and bisexual men considered to be at higher risk of exposure to monkeypox will be offered a vaccine to control the outbreak of the virus, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed.

Data from the latest outbreak shows that there are higher levels of transmission between men who have sex with men, though it is important to remember that anyone can contract monkeypox and the spread is not exclusive to this group.

The new vaccination strategy will see individuals assessed on a number of factors to determine whether or not they should get vaccinated, including:

  • Whether or not they have multiple partners;
  • Whether or not they participate in group sex;
  • Whether or not they attend ‘sex on premises’ venues, such as saunas.

The UKHSA compared the criteria to that which is used to assess eligibility for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

The smallpox vaccine Imvanex will be offered to those considered at higher risk, as this has been shown to be effective against monkeypox.

“While we know anyone can catch monkeypox, we welcome the vaccine being offered to those gay and bi men who are eligible, who are currently at a higher risk of getting the virus,” said Robbie de Santos, Director of Communications and External Affairs at Stonewall.

“It is important that gay and bi men get the vaccine when offered to protect themselves and others. Let’s help get the outbreak under control so we can all have a safe and happy pride season.”

NHS England has asked for people to not come forward for the vaccine until contacted.


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“Although most cases are mild, severe illness can occur in some people, so it is important we use the available vaccine to target groups where spread is ongoing,” added Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA. “The NHS will soon set out details on how this will be delivered – so do not come forward for the vaccine yet.”

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection but can be transferred through close contact including during sex.

According to the NHS, it is most commonly spread between humans in the following ways:

  • Touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash;
  • Touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs;
  • The coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash.

To learn more about monkeypox, click here.