British scientists are urging the government to bring in routine vaccines for those most at risk of monkeypox and gonorrhea, with an inoculation program for the latter a world first.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) said it advises Rishi Sunak that both programs should be offered on an opportunistic basis to those most in need.
Professor Andrew Pollard, President of the JCVI, stated that the introduction of a vaccination program to prevent gonorrhea in England “would be a world first and should contribute significantly to reducing levels of gonorrhea, which are currently at record highs”.
He added: “In addition, we advise setting up a routine targeted mpox [monkeypox] offer – to prevent a repeat of the large outbreak we saw in early 2022. Both vaccinations should be offered to those at greatest risk.”
The JCVI also advised that their recommended gonorrhea vaccination program should primarily target gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, who have the highest rates of the disease.
It comes as sexually transmitted infection (STI) figures from the UK Health Safety Agency show that 2022 saw gonorrhea diagnoses rise by 50.3% from 2021, with 82,592 cases.
And in March it was reported on the number of gonorrhea cases in the UK last year increased by more than a fifth on pre-pandemic levels.
Greg Fell, chairman of the Association of Directors of Public Health, told Sky News: “The recent rise in sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea is very worrying and today’s recommendation from the JCVI is undoubtedly a sensible course of action.
“However, the increase in numbers is partly a result of more people visiting clinics and other diagnostic services to be tested, and as a result of this increase the demand for sexual health services has never been higher.
“As we said in June, we are concerned that the current levels of funding for sexual health services provided in England by the Public Health Grant cannot meet this increase in demand.
“Any new vaccination program must therefore be planned with this in mind and supported with adequate funding and resources so that people can receive the vaccines in a timely and dignified way that does not take away from existing services.”