VDH Further Expands Eligibility for Those Seeking Monkeypox Vaccination

Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced a further expansion of eligibility for JYNNEOS, the monkeypox vaccine. Newly eligible for vaccination in Virginia are persons of any gender or sexual orientation living with HIV/AIDS or who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the past three months.

“VDH is taking this step to expand eligibility for the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine to ensure as many people at high risk of contracting this disease who want to get vaccinated can do so if they choose,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Maximizing effectiveness of prevention and treatment against monkeypox now is our best chance to keep it from becoming entrenched in the United States.”

In Virginia, as of Monday, September 26, there were 464 cases of monkeypox, 249 of those Northern Health Region consisting of the Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Health Districts. Across the state, 21 cases have required hospitalization.

The newly expanded eligibility criteria for vaccination now include additional populations in Virginia. Those who meet one or more of the following are eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine:

  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had anonymous or multiple (more than one) sexual partners in the past two weeks; or
  • Sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender; or
  • Staff, of any sexual orientation or gender, at establishments or events where sexual activity occurs; or
  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, who is living with HIV/AIDS; or
  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, diagnosed with any sexually transmitted infection in the past three months.

Virginia has received a limited supply of JYNNEOS vaccine. If you are eligible, visit your local health district website to learn about how you can access the vaccine. You may use this locator tool to determine which local health district you reside in.

As of September 26, VDH has overseen administration of 9,860 first doses of the two-dose JYNNEOS series and 4,948 second doses.

Monkeypox is a contagious rash illness caused by the monkeypox virus. In most cases, it resolves without treatment. It is spread by close contact with an infected person. Close contact includes touching skin lesions, bodily fluids, or clothing or linens that have been in contact with an infected person. Spread can also occur during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

While anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can catch monkeypox if they have close contact with someone with monkeypox, many of those affected in the current global outbreak are gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men. While this level of monkeypox activity is unexpected, the risk to the general population is low. People with monkeypox in the current outbreak generally report having close, sustained contact with other people who have monkeypox.

The highest risk activity currently is having sex with multiple or anonymous partners; avoiding these activities greatly reduces one’s risk of catching or spreading monkeypox. Monkeypox does not spread from person to person from walking past someone who is infected or through casual conversation with someone who is infected. Because we are still learning about the vaccine’s effectiveness in the current outbreak, vaccinated individuals should continue to take steps to protect themselves from infection.

Initial symptoms of the disease often include flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, followed by skin lesions. However, some people have a rash without other symptoms. Although the majority of cases don’t require hospitalization, the rash can be painful. If you have a rash that resembles monkeypox, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to get tested. Treatment is available for those at risk of severe illness.

For the latest information about monkeypox from VDH, visit our monkeypox information webpage: www.vdh.virginia.gov/monkeypox/.