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In 2022 and 2023, a global outbreak of mpox affected mostly gay, bisexual and other men having sex with men (GBMSM). Outbreak control in the Netherlands included isolation, quarantine, post-exposure prophylaxis vaccination and primary preventive vaccination (PPV).


We describe the course of the outbreak, the vaccination programme, vaccine effectiveness (VE) of full vaccination against symptomatic disease, and trends in behaviour to generate hypotheses about factors that influenced the outbreak’s decline.


In this observational study, we collected data from public health services on notified cases, number of PPV invitations and PPV doses administered. We calculated PPV uptake and coverage. Trends in behavioural data of GBMSM visiting sexual health centres were analysed for all consultations in 2022. We estimated VE using the screening method.


Until 31 December 2023, 1,294 mpox cases were reported. The outbreak peaked in early July 2022 and then declined sharply. PPV started on 25 July 2022; in total 29,851 doses were administered, 45.8% received at least one dose, 35.4% were fully vaccinated. The estimated VE was 68.2% (95% CI 4.3–89.5%). We did not observe an evident decrease in high-risk behaviour.


It is unlikely that PPV was a driver of the outbreak’s decline, as incidence started to decline well before the start of the PPV programme. The possible impact of behavioural change could not be demonstrated with the available indicators, however, the data had limitations, hampering interpretation. We hypothesise that infection-induced immunity in high-risk groups was an important factor explaining the decline.


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