3 reasons to get your mpox (monkeypox) vaccinations By Dan Singh Mpox (monkeypox) is a viral infection that is transmitted through intimate close physical contact, often through your close sexual networks. But there’s good news! Mpox can be vaccinated against and men who have sex with men (MSM) are being prioritised for the vaccine at the moment as it’s spreading faster in the gay and bisexual community. Here are THREE very good reasons why you should get your mpox vaccines. REASON 1: The vaccines stop you getting ill Having the mpox vaccinations will prevent you from falling ill. There is a smallpox vaccine called Imvanex which is being used as a vaccine for mpox and is administered in two doses four weeks apart. The vaccines will reduce the likelihood of symptoms from an mpox infection. Without the vaccinations you could fall ill with symptoms lasting from 2-4 weeks, and in some cases symptoms can be severe. It usually takes between 5 and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear after infection. They can include: high temperature headache muscle aches backache swollen glands shivering (chills) exhaustion joint pain. The next phase of symptoms can include: A rash usually appears 1 to 5 days after the first symptoms unusual spots, ulcers and blisters can develop anywhere on the body This can often begin on your face and spread to other parts of your body but can also be found around the mouth, hands, genitals and anus The spots themselves have different stages: they can look like chickenpox, herpes or syphilis at first, before forming a scab which later falls off Some people may only get a few spots, while some get more. These symptoms can last up to four weeks. Most symptoms are mild enough not to require hospital admission but in some cases hospital treatment may be needed. It is thought that you are infectious until the scabs fall off (if you have them). That’s why vaccinating yourself against mpox is so important. REASON 2: Getting your vaccine can be anonymous You don’t have to provide any personal information about yourself when you get your mpox vaccines if you don’t want to. Your sexual health clinic may ask you some of the following criteria to make sure you are eligible for the vaccine: If you’ve had 10 or more sexual partners in the last year. If you’re taking PrEP (link) If you’re having condomless sex If you use saunas, sex clubs, cruise bars, cruising areas or dark rooms If you’ve been diagnosed with an STI within the last year If you’re a contact of someone with mpox If you do sex work If you are likely to fit one of these criteria in the future. Don’t worry, these criteria questions are just to make sure the vaccines are being given to the right target demographic of men having sex with men (MSM). If you are unsure, just answer yes to one of the above criteria to get your vaccine. Any information you provide at a clinic is treated sensitively and in strict confidence. All conversations are private and confidential in a safe space, with trained specialists. If you prefer not to use a sexual health clinic, some organisations are hosting drop-in vaccination sessions for minority communities, such as Prepster. REASON 3: It gives you peace of mind Getting both of your mpox vaccinations can reduce your anxiety around sex, which means you’ll have a more sex positive outlook and a more enjoyable sex life. South Asian men who have sex with men (MSM) may be at higher risk of mpox and this could be due to social inequalities in health and wellbeing and the barriers to accessing sexual health and wellbeing services. Also, because of stigma, colour prejudices, racism, and exclusion on gay/dating apps, there is a likelihood we are going to socially mix and intimately mingle with our close networks and the opportunity of mpox to spike increases. That’s why getting both your vaccine doses is so important. Getting vaccinated will also reduce anxiety and allows you to be happier with the sex you want and need. Being in control of your sex life and health will help you make informed decisions around other aspects of your sexual health like taking PrEP and regular HIV and STI testing. All of these things combined lead to happier, healthier sex lives. FURTHER INFORMATION Updated 19 June 2023 UPDATE: **The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced on Friday 16 June that vaccines will continue to be given in London, due to a rise in mpox cases. The mpox vaccination programme was originally due to end in July 2023. Call your clinic to book a vaccination.** The second stage of the mpox (monkeypox) vaccine rollout began at the end of September. Sexual health London (SHL) now has a directory where you can find your nearest vaccine availability in London: https://mpx.shl.uk We will update you with more information as we get it and you can find up-to-date vaccine guidance on the GOV.UK website. Check out our What You Need to Know page for information about the first stage of the vaccine roll out and if you live outside the UK. Further reading: Visit Love Tank's Queer Health hub for advice, guides, help and information about mpox.