The monkeypox outbreak is serious enough to have been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) in July. While experts don’t believe the virus will become pandemic like Covid-19, it’s enough of a threat that the UK is rolling out a vaccination programme to try and curb the spread. Here’s how and where you can get a monkeypox vaccine in London.
The latest news is that there’s a shortage of vaccines available, so it was recently announced that the NHS would be offering mini-doses to help maximise the number of people who will be able to receive a dose.
Disclaimer: while we do our best to ensure the info in this article is up-to-date and accurate some of this information may no longer be correct, so please verify with official sources.
Who Can Get Access to the Monkeypox Vaccine?
Anyone can catch monkeypox, but so far the UK Health Agency (UKHSA) has limited the free MVA vaccine to three priority groups:
- Healthcare workers who are caring for or due to be caring for patients with either confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox. (2 doses)
- Gay, bixsexual or other men who have sex with men and who have multiple partners, participate in group sex or attend ‘sex on premises venues’. This group should also include including trans and non-binary people, although the wording both the Goverment and NHS websites doesn’t that clear, but there is more detailed information on specific clinic sites such Cliniq Q at King’s College Hospital. ( 1 dose)
- People who have been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox, ideally within 4 days of exposure, but can be given up to 14 days after. (1 dose)
Where Can I Get a Monkeypox Vaccine in London?
People in the above groups are being contacted directly by the NHS and offered the vaccine, and the public are being asked to wait to be contacted. Self-booking and walk-in appointments are not currently available. But, you can also contact a sexual health clinic or 111 if you have been in close contact with someone with monkeypox or develop symptoms.
There are currently 18 clinics offering the monkeypox vaccine in London, with more potentially opening shortly. These include Guy’s Hospital, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Mortimer Market Centre in Camden, Dean Street Sexual Health Clinic, Barking Hospital Outpatient Centre East, and CliniQ at King’s College Hospital.
For more info on monkeypox in the UK, visit the NHS website.
How is Monkeypox Contracted?
Monkeypox is a rare infection caused by a virus that is more commonly found in west and central Africa (although there have been outbreaks in other parts of the world before now too), which can be transmitted from animals to humans, and between humans. The virus is caused by one similar to the now-eradicated smallpox virus, and the MVA vaccine (Modified Vaccinia Ankara) is a modified version of the smallpox jab which can prevent or reduce severe infection.
It’s contracted via close contact with an infected person. This is any close physical contact with someone that has monkeypox scabs or blisters, not just sexual contact. It also includes coughs and sneezes, holding hands, touching clothing, or shared towels or bedding.
What Are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?
It can take anywhere between four and 21 days for symptoms to appear after exposure. Symptoms usually start with flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature, a headache, swollen glands, shivering and body aches. The main thing to look out for is a rash appearing 1-5 days after the first symptoms, starting on the and spreading all over the body, it can be mistaken for other illnesses such as STIs or even chicken pox.
What Else Should I Know About Monkepox?
Get in touch with a sexual health clinic immediately if you develop a rash with blisters or any other monkeypox symptoms identified by the NHS, or if you’ve been in close contact with anyone who has confirmed or suspected monkeypox in the past three weeks. You can also call your GP or the NHS 111 service to get advice on your symptoms.
The good news is that monkeypox is generally mild and most people recover in a few weeks and won’t require treatment in hospital. There isn’t a prescribed number of days for self-isolation, but the Government advice is currently to isolate at home, away from others in your household until :
- You have not had a temperature for at least 72 hours
- You have had no new lesions for 48 hours
- All your lesions have scabbed over
- You have no lesions in your mouth.
Confusingly, it also advises that you wait until the scabs have fallen off to end self-isolation, so contact 111, your GP or local sexual health clinic if all your other symptoms have cleared up to get advice. They may advise covering any remaining lesions when leaving the house or resuming contact with members of your household until a fresh layer of skin has formed underneath.