UK health officials are set to offer monkeypox vaccines to gay and bisexual men who are deemed to be the most “at-risk” of catching the virus.
The UK Health Security Agency said men who have sex with other men have the highest chance of contracting the disease, and vaccines will help flatten the curve of the virus as the UK’s cases soar to nearly 800.
“Our extensive contact tracing work has helped to limit the spread of the monkeypox virus, but we are continuing to see a notable proportion of cases in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men,” the Health Security Agency’s head of immunization , Dr. Mary Ramsay, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“By expanding the vaccine offer to those at higher risk, we hope to break chains of transmission and help contain the outbreak.”
Monkeypox can cause blisters and pimples on the skin. Patients also report having rashes after the blisters.
The virus can spread through the sharing of bodily fluids or clothing with an infected person or animal. It can also be contracted by breathing in respiratory droplets while speaking to someone.
Up until now, vaccines were made available exclusively for health workers taking care of patients infected with the disease, or for cleaners disinfecting areas contaminated by the virus.
Doctors may advise vaccination for someone who has several sexual partners, participates in group sex, or attends “sex-on-premises” venues, the agency added.
The monkeypox virus is understood to spread through close contact with an infected person.
While it’s not currently defined as a sexually transmitted infection, it can be passed on via intimate contact during sex.
As it stands, over 99 percent of the 793 monkeypox cases in the UK are among men, and the majority of those are in men who are gay, bisexual, or who have sex with men.
There are more than 2,100 cases of the virus in 42 countries globally. No deaths beyond Africa have been reported.
The CDC has confirmed 114 cases of monkeypox in 21 states and the District of Columbia. New York has 21 cases, second only to California, which has 24 cases.
This week, New Jersey’s Department of Health said the Garden State’s first probable case of the monkeypox virus was confirmed following a test that was conducted Saturday.
With Post wires