July 20. 2022- After receiving a shipment of about 160 JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccines on July 19, 2022, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) is starting today to vaccinate individuals who may be at higher risk of monkeypox exposure who have not had contact with a known positive case. RHHD is also launching an interest form for individuals in the Richmond and Henrico area to express interest in receiving a monkeypox vaccine. Individuals can fill out the interest form by visiting rhhd.gov/monkeypoxvax or by calling 804-205-3501.
Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus that causes a rash or lesions and is spread through close person to person contact. As of May 2022, the CDC has reported the disease in several countries that have not historically seen monkeypox cases. Although most, but not all, cases of monkeypox associated with the current 2022 outbreak have been identified in gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men (MSM), anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can get monkeypox if they have close contact with someone infected with the virus. While it’s important to identify which communities are most impacted by a disease for prevention efforts, it is never acceptable to use transmission of a disease to stigmatize or hold biases against a community.
Prior to today, RHHD only offered vaccines as post-exposure prophylaxis to high- and some intermediate-risk close contacts of known monkeypox cases. Vaccines are now beginning to be offered to adults with certain risk factors that increase their likelihood of becoming exposed to monkeypox. RHHD is starting the vaccination process with a few appointments today for high-risk individuals identified through community outreach. Filling out the interest form will add an individual to a list to potentially receive a monkeypox vaccine in the future depending on risk factors and the available supply. Because vaccination supply remains limited, monkeypox vaccination is not guaranteed by filling out the interest form. Examples of individuals who are eligible to get vaccinated include:
● Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men and have had multiple or
anonymous sexual partners;
● Transgender women and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with
men and have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners;
● Sex workers;
● Staff at establishments where sexual activity occurs; and
● People who attend sex-on-premises venues.
“We know that there are many folks in the community who are ready to get vaccinated against monkeypox and we’re eager to vaccinate them,” explains Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of RHHD. “Thankfully, there were vaccines already developed… we are prioritizing individuals with the highest risk while supply is low, but are hopeful that we’ll continue to get an increasing supply in the coming weeks and months.”
For more information on monkeypox and prevention, visit rhhd.gov/monkeypox or call 804-205-3501.