THE NHS is urging people invited to receive a vaccination against monkeypox to get jabbed and help protect themselves and the wider community.

Although the number of people catching the virus remains low, the vaccine is being offered to groups most at risk to help reduce the spread of infection.

Vaccination by University Hospital Sussex NHS Trust is taking place via sexual health clinics in Brighton and West Sussex by invitation only.

As monkeypox is caused by a virus similar to smallpox, vaccines against smallpox are expected to prevent or reduce the severity of infection and are being offered to at-risk groups.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) currently recommends that the vaccination is offered to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men at highest risk of exposure, people who have already had close contact with a monkeypox patient, and healthcare workers caring for and due to start caring for a patient with the virus.

Currently, only a specific group already known to sexual health services and considered at high risk of acquiring monkeypox are being explicitly invited at this stage in Sussex.

The Argus: Vaccination against monkeypox is currently by invitation only to the most high risk groupsVaccination against monkeypox is currently by invitation only to the most high risk groups

Dr Emma Rutland, sexual health consultant for University Hospital Sussex NHS Trust, said: “Those at most risk are being offered the vaccine against monkeypox.

“Please wait to be invited - anyone who believes they are eligible for the vaccination should wait to be contacted.

“Once more vaccine supply becomes available, people outside these initial groups will be considered.”

The UKHSA has procured more than 100,000 additional doses of the smallpox vaccine, enabling more people to be vaccinated to prevent infection and limit transmission.

Additional doses are expected to arrive this month, with more expected in September.

The UK previously procured nearly 30,000 doses to allow the NHS to begin a rollout of the vaccination programme for people most likely to catch monkeypox.

Up to August 1, there were 2,759 confirmed and highly probable cases of monkeypox across the UK, with 233 reported in South East England.