Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Hannah Blythyn MS, Deputy Minister for Social Partnerships
On 22nd July, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a press release regarding the accelerated monkeypox vaccination roll-out in London. This statement is to update Members on the implications of this on the roll-out in Wales.
NHS Wales has already been vaccinating some of those eligible for the monkeypox vaccine, who are:
- Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM),
- Frontline healthcare staff who are at greatest risk of exposure,
- Those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case, in line with the UKHSA advice
The monkeypox vaccines are not produced to be routinely used in any country, so global supplies have been limited. Because of the limit on supply, the four UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed, in the short term, to the UK wide outbreak management approach, proposed by UKHSA. This means vaccine deployment will be prioritised where there are localised outbreaks.
The programme is being expanded first in London as this is where the majority of cases are located. NHS teams in the London area will receive additional doses from the existing supply in an effort to break the chains of transmission as quickly as possible.
For Wales, like the rest of the UK, this means in the short term, only those most at risk in areas with localised outbreaks are being prioritised for vaccination. People who fall within this category in Wales will be contacted directly by their health board. This is a temporary measure until more vaccine is delivered. Last week, the UKHSA announced that they had procured more than 100,000 additional vaccine doses with the first 20,000 set to be delivered for use by the NHS in August. We are working closely with the UKHSA to ensure Wales’ share of the vaccine is available for deployment as soon as possible.
Those next in line will be offered the vaccine as soon as it becomes available and we urge all those who are eligible for the vaccine to take it up when invited by health boards to a vaccination appointment. It will help protect yourself and others you have had close contact with.
We are seeing the majority of monkeypox cases in the current outbreak experienced by gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. We want to reassure this community that their interests are our priority. Everyone is being asked to be aware of the symptoms of monkeypox, regardless of sexuality, however it is clear that some groups are at increased risk. We are keen to avoid a situation where fear of stigma prevents individuals from accessing health care services or asking for help. It is important that we do not allow stigma or misinformation do more harm than the virus itself.
We should all be aware of the risks and symptoms of monkeypox and be careful when attending events and situations where close contact may occur. People concerned about symptoms should contact NHS 111 or a sexual health service. Further information is available on the Public Health Wales website:
While the World Health Organisation has now declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, and although more people have been diagnosed with monkeypox recently, the number of people affected overall in Wales, and the UK, remains low and the risk of catching monkeypox is extremely low. It is important also to be aware that evidence shows that the virus is treatable, and whilst there are specific antiviral treatments available for monkeypox, the illness is usually mild. Most of those infected will not require treatment and will recover by themselves within a few weeks. However, Public Health Wales and partners continue to monitor the situation in Wales on an ongoing basis and work with UKHSA on the response.
This statement is being issued during recess to keep Members informed. Should Members wish us to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns we would be happy to do so.