Government’s complacency over Monkeypox puts LGBTQ+ people at risk say west London MPs

Images above: Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey; Monkeypox vaccination library image

Thérèse Coffey’s decision not to buy more vaccine is “reckless and frankly homophobic” say West London Queer Project

Two west London MPs have criticised the Government’s ‘complacency’ over Monkeypox as Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey has rejected her officials’ expert advice to procure 70,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine.

LGBTQ+ community group West London Queer Project wrote to four west London MPs about what they describe as the Health Secretary’s “reckless and frankly homophobic” decision to not procure any additional doses of the vaccine.

Monkey pox is transmitted through close contact and is spreading mainly among gay and bisexual men. Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen glands, chills and exhaustion. New unexpected or unusual spots, ulcers and blisters can develop anywhere on the body,

Two west London MPs, Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter, said the Government’s “worrying” and “unacceptable” complacency is putting the safety of LGBTQ+ people at risk.

Those considered most at risk to the virus have been contacted and offered a first dose of the vaccine by sexual health clinics across London. One dose of the vaccine protects against some of the worst symptoms of the virus. The type of vaccine used in the UK requires a second booster dose to improve its effectiveness.

Complete Monkeypox vaccination is 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, according to the World Health Organisation.

Image: Ruth Cadbury MP

Thérèse Coffey’s decision is “particularly concerning”, says Ruth Cadbury MP

Ruth Cadbury, the Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, responded to WLQP’s letter saying:

“This decision was particularly concerning as it appears to have overruled advice given by officials within her department and suggests a complacent attitude by the Government. As you say in your email this decision could have a huge impact on the LGBTQ+ community, and I believe that the Government need to be doing much more as a matter of urgency to ensure that there is a long-term and stable supple of vaccinations.”

“I have made sure to table written Parliamentary questions to the Department of Health and Social care about the availability of vaccinations, including in London…

“This attitude by Government, particularly in ignoring the advice of their public health officials, is very worrying; not only in terms of public health but also what it says about the Government’s approach [to] issues that impact on the LGBTQ+ community.”

Image: Andy Slaughter MP

“Unacceptable” response by Government has been “too slow”, says Andy Slaughter MP

Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, said:

“Anybody can get monkeypox, and everybody should be aware of the symptoms and what is important in providing accurate information that does not shame or stigmatise.

“The evidence that monkeypox disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men (GBMSM) is clear, which is why sexual health charities and LGBT+ groups have been warning for weeks that urgent, targeted action is needed to prevent the disease from becoming endemic.

“However, I am extremely concerned that the Government has been too slow in its response. There has been no ministerial statement to Parliament and little information about support for at-risk groups.

“It is unacceptable, in my view, that GBMSM have had to rely on information from social media and those within their community for public health information. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how important it is that clear and accurate guidance must be published and promoted, alongside information on vaccine eligibility, so that everyone that needs to comes forward.”

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