UK Rolls Out Monkeypox Vaccination Program for Wider Population

In a recent announcement, Britain has changed its monkeypox vaccine eligibility and rolled out a new program.

3 min read
UK Rolls Out Monkeypox Vaccination Program for Wider Population

On Tuesday 21 June, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced a rollout of more Imvanex vaccines for its citizens, to help control the Monkeypox outbreak.

The agency has stated that the Monkeypox outbreak in the UK has mainly been in, but is not limited to, men who have sex with men, who have no documented history of travel to countries where monkeypox is endemic to.

Imvanex, the vaccine that is to be used in UK is originally a smallpox vaccine. 

(Photo: iStock)

Monkeypox: What You Need To Know About The Vaccine

Monkeypox, a virus closely related to smallpox, will be pitted against a smallpox vaccine called Jynneos, which is 85 percent effective against monkeypox.

  • Also known as Imvanex, this is a weakened form of the vaccinia virus that is closely related to, but less harmful than the viruses that cause smallpox and monkeypox.

  • This modified version of vaccinia does not cause disease in humans and cannot reproduce in human cells.

  • Dosage: Made by a Danish company Bavian Nordic, the two-shot vaccine is administered within a gap of four weeks. However, the UK has chosen to only give the first shot for now, and plans to decide on the second one as per the future of the outbreak's spread.

  • An individual’s eligibility for the vaccine depends on a number of factors similar to the criteria used to assess those eligible for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – but will be applied regardless of HIV status.

  • The strategy states that a clinician may advise vaccination for someone who, for example, has multiple partners, participates in group sex or attends ‘sex on premises’ venues.

Monkeypox spreads through direct contact with an infected indivual. 

(Photo: iStock)


As per the report by the UK government, out of the confirmed cases in UK, 758 (99 percent) have been found in males while only five females have been infected by Monkeypox.

The virus usually spreads through lesions and close contact. A direct touch or an indirect contact with the infected person's towel or bed linen is enough to potentially spread the virus.

Data from the latest outbreak shows higher levels of transmission within – but not exclusive to – the sexual networks of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.

Monkeypox: Who's Eligible For Vaccination?

In the light of increasing case spread, the UK has permitted the administration of vaccines to tens of thousands of high-risk groups.

Initially, only high-risk individuals or individuals who had close contact with the virus were advised vaccination.

The UK Health agency has advised its citizens to be on the lookout for any new ulcers or spots they might see on their skin. 

(Photo: iStock)

The UKHSA's vaccination strategy recommends offering the smallpox vaccine Imvanex, which is shown to be effective against monkeypox, to men considered to be at higher risk of exposure.
"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. The NHS will soon set out details on how this will be delivered – so do not come forward for the vaccine yet."
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation, UKHSA

For now, countries like Canada and the US have placed more orders for the Imvanex vaccine while the UK has already purchased 20,000 more doses of the vaccine as of May 2022.

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