Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading sexual health charity, is urging the government to extend its mpox vaccination programme after a new cluster of cases was identified.

The interim epidemiological update published on 25 May stated 10 new cases of mpox, which was formerly known as monkeypox, have been diagnosed – all of which were in London.

Half of these were in unvaccinated individuals, while two were in people who had only received one dose.

Five of the cases were acquired in the UK, with four believed to have been from somewhere abroad and one remaining under investigation.

“It is clear from these latest statistics that mpox has not gone away,” said Katy Sinka, Head of Sexually Transmitted Infections at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

“While 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.”

The mpox vaccination programme is to be wound down in England over the summer

It was recently announced that England’s mpox vaccination programme is no longer needed and will be wound down in the summer, but the UKHSA is keeping the situation under close review.

Appointments to receive a first dose of the vaccine will remain available for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men at highest risk until 16 June, with bookings for second doses available until the end of July.

However, Terrence Higgins Trust is now calling on the government to extend the vaccination programme for gay and bisexual men, as well as for continued vigilance to the signs and symptoms of the virus.

READ MORE: Mpox: What you need to know about England’s vaccination programme

“While ten new mpox cases may seem small scale, it’s important to react quickly to ensure we don’t see another wave,” explained Ceri Smith, Head of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust. “That means ensuring the mpox vaccination programme for gay and bisexual men is extended – the current offer for mpox vaccination is due to be wound down at the end of July.

“We also echo the UK Health Security Agency’s call for vigilance, particularly among gay and bisexual men which is the group most affected by mpox. That means being aware of the signs and symptoms, getting both doses of the vaccine and getting tested if you think you might have mpox. Concerningly, figures show that only half of people who have had their first vaccine dose have also had their second. It’s important to have both doses for maximum protection. Especially as we approach Pride events and other festivals both here in the UK and in Europe, which was a factor in mpox’s spread last summer.”

You can find your nearest pox vaccination site by clicking here.