A pre-exposure vaccination programme for people at a higher risk of contracting monkeypox is under way in Scotland, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

The news comes after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) published advice saying those more prone to exposure to the virus should be offered immunisation.

This is in response to a recent monkeypox outbreak in the UK.

Although anyone can contract the virus, health officials said data from the latest outbreak shows higher levels of transmission are within, but not exclusive to, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scotland will move to a pre-exposure vaccination programme for priority risk groups.

“Full details on how eligible people can get vaccinated will be set out shortly, but we can confirm we are planning to offer the vaccine to certain healthcare workers and some gay and bisexual men considered to be at higher risk of contracting the disease.”

People have been advised not to come forward for the vaccine until they have been contacted, she added.

The Scottish Government said it is working with Public Health Scotland (PHS) and following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), to determine the delivery of a vaccine programme.

Earlier, PHS confirmed the number of monkeypox cases in Scotland has now risen to 18 as of noon on Sunday.

Health officials have said that the illness “appears to be generally mild and not life-threatening” with no reported deaths in the UK to date.

Symptoms include fever, aching muscles, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

No treatment exists, but the symptoms usually clear up after two to four weeks.