England’s mpox vaccination programme is no longer needed and will be wound down in the summer, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced.

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.

The virus, which was formerly known as monkeypox, has seen a sustained reduction in cases across the country from a high of 350 per week in July 2022 to just six new cases in 2023 so far.

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

READ MORE: Monkeypox: What the symptoms are and why it’s wrong to stigmatise gay and bisexual men

The UKHSA 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.

It will also continue to be offered to some groups at higher risk of getting mpox, including healthcare workers caring for patients with the virus and some staff in sexual health clinics who will be assessing suspected cases.

In addition to this, family or other close contacts of someone with mpox who are at highest risk of severe illness will also continue to be offered vaccination, including children under five years, immunosuppressed individuals and pregnant women.

Data shows that just one dose of the vaccine offers 78 per cent protection against the virus from 14 days after receiving it, with the second offering long term protection.