Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), Public Health Scotland (PHS) will work with Scottish Government and colleagues across NHS Boards to make plans for the introduction of a new vaccine programme which offers protection against gonorrhoea.

JCVI’s recommendation is to offer 4CmenB vaccines, which offers good protection against gonorrhoea, to gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men as well as others with high markers of risk for gonorrhoea. Evidence shows the 4CmenB vaccine can protect against future infections and help to reduce the spread of gonorrhoea in the community.

MenB vaccine is already used as a routine childhood immunisation for the prevention of meningococcal disease. As meningococcal disease and gonorrhoea are closely related, evidence shows that MenB vaccine provides good cross-protection against gonorrhoea.

Gonorrhoea diagnoses have been steadily increasing over the past ten years, mainly in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. This vaccination programme is expected to reduce case numbers and the individual risk of contracting gonorrhoea.

JCVI has also recommended that following a further review of the evidence available between June and September 2023, an ongoing routine vaccination strategy for protection against mpox should be developed, and pre-exposure vaccination should target GBMSM who are at highest risk of exposure to mpox.

Dr Nick Phin, Director of Public Health Science at PHS, said:

“The recent increase in gonorrhoea cases, mainly in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, is very concerning and the offer of the 4CmenB vaccine to this group is a welcome new intervention to help control and prevent the spread of this infection.

“Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection, and while it can be treated, prevention is key and we would continue to encourage everyone to practice safe sex. The best way to reduce your risk of catching sexually transmitted infections is the correct and consistent use of a condom for sex with new and casual partners.”

Public Health Minister, Jenni Minto said:

“Immunisation is one of the most effective public health interventions and we welcome the JCVI’s recommendation to introduce these valuable new programmes and to continue our mpox vaccination programme.

“Cases of gonorrhoea are on the rise and can have devastating effects on those who get it. We welcome any measures that can be taken to prevent serious or severe disease and will work with PHS, sexual health and other stakeholders to implement this advice and deliver a vaccination programme to those most at risk.”

More information on cases of gonorrhoea infection in Scotland is available: Gonorrhoea infection in Scotland 2013-2022 report - News - Public Health Scotland

If you are concerned about gonorrhoea or other sexually transmitted infections, further information on the signs and symptoms and where to seek advice is available on NHS Inform.

Read the full JCVI advice

Last updated: 10 November 2023