As cases of Monkeypox continue to increase up and down the country, the NHS is accelerating its roll out of a vaccine against the infection.

Thousands of people have been deemed eligible for a Monkeypox vaccine as the Government works to contain the spread.

Up to 25 July 2022, there were 2,367 confirmed and 65 highly probable monkeypox cases in the UK: 2,432 in total.

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Are you wondering if you qualify?

This is everything you need to know:

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare infection most commonly found in west or central Africa.

The disease was first discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of a pox-like illness occurred in monkeys kept for research.

The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Since then Monkeypox has been reported in a number of central and western African countries.

Witney Gazette: A file image of MonkeypoxA file image of Monkeypox

How do you get Monkeypox?

You get the disease through close contact with an infected person.

It can be passed though:

  • any close physical contact with Monkeypox blisters or scabs (including during sexual contact, kissing, cuddling or holding hands)
  • touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the disease
  • the coughs or sneezes of a person with Monkeypox when they're close to you

What are Monkeypox symptoms?

If you contract the disease, it normally takes between five and 21 days for symptoms to appear.

These include:

  • a high temperature
  • a headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen glands
  • shivering (chills)
  • exhaustion

Witney Gazette: Undated handout file image issued by the UK Health Security Agency of the stages of Monkeypox.Undated handout file image issued by the UK Health Security Agency of the stages of Monkeypox.

Following this, around one to five days after the initial symptoms a rash appears.

The rash often begins on the face before spreading to other parts of the body, including the genitals and anus.

The rash is sometimes confused with chickenpox.

It starts as raised spots, which turn into small blisters filled with fluid, eventually forming scabs which later fall off.

How can you avoid getting and passing on Monkeypox?

While Monkeypox is rare, the NHS has outlined a number of steps you can take to reduce your chance of catching it and passing it on.

These are:

  • washing your hands with soap and water regularly or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • talking with sexual partners about their sexual health and any symptoms they may have
  • being aware of the symptoms of Monkeypox if you are sexually active, especially if you have new sexual partners
  • taking a break from sex and intimate contact if you have symptoms of Monkeypox until you get seen by a doctor and told you are no longer at risk of passing it on

Witney Gazette: File image of healthcare worker preparing Monkeypox vaccineFile image of healthcare worker preparing Monkeypox vaccine

What is the Monkeypox vaccine?

A smallpox (Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA)) vaccination is being used to prevent Monkeypox.

The Monkeypox infection is caused by a virus similar to smallpox, therefore it is believed that vaccines against smallpox are expected to prevent or reduce the severity of the Monkeypox infection.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended using the MVA vaccine more widely in those at risk to help also reduce spread of the infection.

Who can get a vaccine?

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) currently recommends the vaccine is offered to:

  • healthcare workers who are caring for and who are due to start caring for a patient with confirmed Monkeypox. This includes some staff in sexual health clinics who are assessing any suspected cases
  • gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) at highest risk of exposure. Your doctor or nurse will advise vaccination for you if they consider you are at high risk – for example if you have multiple partners, participate in group sex or attend ‘sex on premises’ venues. Staff who work in such premises may also be eligible
  • people who have already had close contact with a patient with confirmed Monkeypox.

Can I just walk up and get a vaccine?

No, you cannot walk up and get a vaccine in Oxfordshire.

Monkeypox vaccinations are reserved for people who are considered eligible and are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.

An Oxford University Hospitals Trust spokesperson said: “Our Trust is contacting patients within Oxfordshire who are eligible for the vaccine directly to offer them appointments.”


Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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