Monkeypox in Newcastle: Who is eligible for vaccine?

Some walk-in monkeypox vaccine centres have opened in London, but that is not the case in Newcastle

Groups of people in the UK are being called forward to receive a Monkeypox vaccine and people in Newcastle may be eligible for a dose too.

Anyone concerned about monkeypox may have seen images and videos of large queues at London hospitals as some clinics offer walk-in vaccination appointments to those most in need.

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On Saturday, the World Health Orginsation declared monkeypox a global health emergency with cases on the rise around the world - 2,208 were confirmed in the UK at that point.

Here's the latest on monkeypox in the UK and how Newcastle residents can check if they are eligible for a vaccine.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.

It's usually a mild illness that gets better without treatment but some patients may develop more serious symptoms and a small number may be hospitalised.

The NHS says that symptoms can include a high temperature, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen glands, shivering (chills) and exhaustion.

People line up to recieve monkeypox vaccinations at Guys Hospital in London (Image: Getty Images)

A rash usually appears one to five days after the first symptoms, often beginning on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. This can include the genitals and anus - anyone with symptoms should contact a sexual health clinic.

Monkeypox can be spread via close physical contact with monkeypox blisters or scabs, touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with monkeypox or through the coughs or sneezes of a person with monkeypox when they're close to you.

Who can get a monkeypox vaccine?

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) currently recommends that monkeypox vaccines, known as MVA, are offered to the following people:

  • Healthcare workers who are caring for and who are due to start caring for a patient with confirmed monkeypox.
  • Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) at highest risk of exposure. A doctor or nurse will advise vaccination if they consider a patient to be at high risk – for example, if you have multiple partners, participate in group sex or attend ‘sex on premises’ venues.
  • People who have already had close contact with a patient with confirmed monkeypox.

Only one dose of the vaccine is currently being offered by the NHS to those people. If the outbreak continues a second dose may be advised later.

What if I fall into one of those groups?

Some people who fall into those groups have been travelling long distances to London to try and receive a walk-in vaccine, although many centres are at capacity and having to turn people away.

The NHS says that "some sexual health services will be contacting those men that are likely to be at highest risk, for example, those who have had a recent sexually transmitted infection, to come in first".

Other services will offer vaccines alongside other appointments, for example for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

What if I don't fall into those groups?

If you are not in those groups, then a vaccine is not currently available for you.

The NHS is reminding the public that the number of people in the UK with monkeypox is still very low and the risk of catching the illness is still minimal.