Second phase of HSE's monkeypox vaccine rollout to start in October

An online appointment portal will be launched a few weeks before the start of the second phase of the monkeypox vaccine rollout.

This article is about the second phase of the monkeypox vaccine rollout in Ireland. in the picture, a nurse injecting a vaccine to a patient.
Image: Via Pexels - Nataliya Vaitkevich

The HSE has released new information about the second phase of its monkeypox vaccine rollout plan, which is expected to begin at the end of this month. A new online portal will also be launched in the coming weeks to allow people to make appointments for their monkeypox vaccination.

The first phase of the monkeypox vaccination programme was announced earlier in August, when the HSE communicated that priority would be given to people who were at heightened risk of monkeypox infections, including gay and bisexual men who have sex with men (gbMSM).

Following updated advice from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) regarding the intradermal injection technique, Ireland’s vaccine strategy was amended, which allowed for a significant increase in the number of doses available.

While in the first announcement it was expected that approximately 600 people would be able to get a dose of the monkeypox vaccine, in the second phase up to 3,000 people are expected to be vaccinated in Ireland. The vaccine will be made available at community vaccine centres and sexual health clinics across the whole country.

The online appointment portal will be launched approximately two weeks before the appointments for the vaccine are expected to begin, projected for the end of October. The portal will invite members of the gay, bi and Transgender community and other individuals to assess their risk and, if they meet certain criteria, book their appointments. According to the HSE, this will allow those who are most at risk to have access to the vaccine first.

According to the latest report published by the HPSC, there have been 183 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ireland. Among these, 181 cases have been identified among males, with only two female cases. In general, the “epidemiological picture to date in Ireland is similar to that seen in other countries where cases are primarily among gbMSM”.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey, who has opposed LGBTQ+ rights on multiple occasions in the past, is under fire for “jeopardising public health” after she ignored advice from officials to secure additional doses of monkeypox vaccine last week.

On September 26, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported that there are currently 3,485 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK. While cases are falling, their number is still very high, which has led activists to urge the government to secure more doses of the vaccine and accuse Coffey of “playing politics with the health of our communities”.

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