Health Officials from the County Department of Health and Human Services to Offer Monkeypox Vaccine to Limited Number of At-Risk Residents

by Patrick Herron

Residents who are identified by public health officials as close contacts of current monkeypox cases will be offered vaccination. Public health staff from the County’s sexual health programs will be working with community-based non-profit organizations to identify residents who could be at risk and are contacting them directly to offer an opportunity to be vaccinated.   As vaccine supply increases, additional residents who are at-risk will be identified and offered vaccination.

Currently, monkeypox vaccinations will be limited to:

  • Known contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing and risk exposure assessments.
  • Presumed contacts who may meet the following criteria:
  • Know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • Had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox.

The risk of monkeypox in the United States is believed to be low.  Monkeypox does not spread easily between people, and the time between exposure and when symptoms start give public health officials time to track down contacts and break the chain of infection.

Anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can catch monkeypox.  However, a number of cases in the current outbreak are among gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men.

People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.  Even though it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, monkeypox can spread during intimate physical contact between people.  Anyone can get monkeypox if they have close contact with someone who has the virus.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.  Person to person transmission occurs through:

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or bodily fluids.
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
  • Touching items such as clothing or linens that previously touched the rash or body fluids of an infected person.
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.  The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.  People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

Symptoms can often include flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash and lesions on the skin.  Most cases of monkeypox do not require hospitalization, but monkeypox is highly contagious in individuals with symptoms.

Residents who believe that they have been exposed to monkeypox should contact their health care provider or a community provider such as an urgent care center.  Those without a health care provider can also call the Disease Control Program at 240-777-1755.  People who believe they are in a high-risk group and meet the above criteria for vaccination can contact their health care provider or the Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) clinic at 240-777-1751.

People who believe they have been exposed to monkeypox should avoid close contact with others until a health care provider examines them and provides testing for the monkeypox virus.  They should avoid close contact with pets or other animals until they are examined and tested.  If a person tests positive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that they  stay isolated until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.

Visit the County’s Department of Health and Human Services website for additional information about monkeypox.


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