Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
On 23 September, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued an updated strategy setting out recommendations on vaccination in relation to the Monkeypox outbreak.
The strategy has been endorsed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which was consulted on vaccine dose prioritisation. The main aim of the vaccination strategy is to interrupt transmission and to bring the Monkeypox outbreak under control.
The UKHSA statement recommends prioritising the vaccination of the highest risk group with two doses, rather than expanding the numbers of people that are eligible for vaccination with a single dose. It was felt that offering second doses to the existing high risk eligible group completes their primary course, maximising their direct protection and indirect protection via their contribution to current and future transmission. It was seen as operationally more feasible to do so as this group is more easily identifiable. This action combined with the earlier advice to use the intradermal method of delivery using fractional doses would also likely result in some doses remaining available for use in outbreaks. The advice also recognises that once the two-dose strategy has been completed it may be reasonable to offer wider vaccination to those at intermediate risk of exposure to help to increase resilience against further transmission.
I am content to accept this advice, and NHS Wales will begin rolling out this strategy in line with these recommendations as soon as possible. People are advised not to come forward for the vaccine until contacted.
While there were two new cases of Monkeypox in Wales during September, it remains important to continue to prioritise the vaccination programme in order to break the chain of transmission and bring the outbreak under control.
Everyone is being asked to be aware of Monkeypox symptoms but it’s particularly important gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are alert. People should be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia. They should contact NHS 111 or a sexual health service if they have concerns.
Once again, I want to reassure gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men that their interests are our priority. We are keen to avoid a situation where stigma, or 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.
I am extremely grateful to the NHS and everyone involved in supporting the Monkeypox response and all vaccination programmes for their continued hard work.