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‘World first’ gonorrhoea vaccination scheme could be introduced in the UK

Plans to introduce gonorrhea vaccination come as infection levels are currently at a record high.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which advises on vaccination has urged the government to bring in routine vaccination for those at high risk of gonorrhea.

The JCVI recommends using the 4CMenB vaccine for gonorrhoea, which is currently used to prevent children from getting meningococcal disease such as meningitis and septicaemia.

Meningococcal disease and gonorrhoea are closely genetically related, with evidence showing that the 4CMenB vaccine will provide some cross-protection against gonorrhoea.

‘Introducing a MenB vaccination programme to prevent gonorrhoea in England would be a world first and should significantly help to reduce levels of gonorrhoea, which are currently at a record high,’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, chair of the JCVI.

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This advice comes as a recent report by the UK Health Security Agency revealed that gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK, with over 82,000 cases being reported in 2022, an increase of 50.3% (54,961) compared to 2021. 

Katy Sinka, head of sexually transmitted infections at the UK Health Security Agency welcomed the committee’s intervention.

‘We saw a rapid rise last year with more cases than ever before and with gonorrhoea becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, tackling this infection is a serious concern,’ said Ms Sinka.

‘Any routine vaccination offer to those at highest risk of infection will help ensure we remain on top of the disease and prevent any major future outbreaks,’ she said.