On June 27, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning about the rising number of mpox cases recorded in the US, Britain, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. WHO urged gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) to get vaccinated against the virus ahead of summer festivals, as the risk of a resurgence of cases may increase.
Speaking to Openly, Richard Pebody, the programme area manager for infectious hazards at WHO Europe, highlighted such risk, saying: “With the onset of festivals and events there are potential activities, particularly sexual activities… that increase the risk of transmission. Then there is the potential to see clusters and outbreaks of mpox.”
Responding to this update, MPOWER released a statement to GCN, highlighting the importance of being aware of risks as Pride festivities across the country continue. “Now is a really important time to be symptom aware. Mpox seems like a distant memory but cases across Europe are being diagnosed again. Refresh your memory of the symptoms to look out for and what to do if you think you might have it by visiting the MPOWER website,” the statement read.
“It’s also not too late to get vaccinated,” it continued. “Some of the new cases being diagnosed across Europe are among those who haven’t gotten both doses or didn’t get vaccinated at all. There are appointments for first and second doses in Dublin clinics throughout July and August.”
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According to the HSE website, people who have been identified as most at risk of contracting mpox should come forward for vaccination, including those who are close contacts of confirmed cases. As further explained by activist Adam Shanley from MPOWER, “the HSE released criteria that would help gay, bi, MSM and trans people to self-identify if they’re at risk”.
“However, we worked hard to ensure that clinics would take a ‘no-questions asked’ approach so folks wouldn’t have to explain their reasons for wanting to avail of the vaccine,” Shanley continued. “That’s still the case, so if you feel you’d benefit from the protection of an mpox vaccine – get an appointment now, no questions asked!”
The WHO identified the mpox outbreak as a global health emergency in July 2022, as cases were recorded in multiple countries where the disease is not endemic. Health officials in Ireland recorded a total of 227 confirmed cases of the virus in 2022.
In 2023, only three cases of mpox were detected in the country, according to data provided by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. Ireland has been praised for its response to the outbreak, with the community engagement campaign and vaccination efforts led by MPOWER and Man2Man largely responsible for this success.
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