Monkeypox was first identified in the United States on May 18 in an individual from Massachusetts. Since then, more than 6,326 cases have been reported in the United States, with 24 here in Rhode Island and 134 in Massachusetts.
Although it can spread to anybody regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, the monkeypox virus is disproprortionately impacting gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Early data suggests the monkeypox virus is rarely fatal, but symptoms can be extremely painful and can sometimes lead to permanent scarring and other long-term medical issues.
Who is eligible?
As of Wednesday, August 3, Open Door Health is accepting vaccination appointment requests from
- Anyone who has been exposed to the monkeypox virus through close contact with someone who has tested positive,
- Any gay, bisexual, or other man who has sex with other men (including gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, or gender non-binary) and has has had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 30 days.
The clinic will be prioritizing individuals in this population who have been exposed to the monkeypox virus, or who are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system.
Where to get vaccinated?
Rhode Island Public Health institute’s Open Door Health is administering the monkeypox vaccine, though supply remains limited. If you meet the current guidelines and would like a vaccination, visit www.odhpvd.org and submit a request through the online form. Online requests are strongly encouraged. If you don’t have access to the internet, please call 401-648-4700. Due to the extraordinarily high volume of calls, the online form is preferred. You will receive a faster response if you use the online form to submit your vaccine request.
How is the vaccine administered?
The current monkeypox vaccine, JYNNEOS, is administered as two (0.5 mL) subcutaneous (under the skin) injections 28 days apart. A person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the second dose. For additional information about the JYNNEOS vaccine, consider reading the CDC’s Considerations for Monkeypox Vaccination and the JYNNEOS Vaccine Information Statement.
Are vaccine supplies still limited?
Yes. In the United States, there is currently a limited supply of JYNNEOS, although more is expected in coming weeks and months. On July 28, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced plans to allocate an additional 786,000 doses of JYNNEOS vaccine, dramatically increasing the supply of monkeypox vaccine doses to states and jurisdictions. The additional vaccine allocation adds to the more than 340,000 doses of JYNNEOS vaccine that have already been delivered to states.
Are the vaccines effective?
Because monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can protect people from getting monkeypox. Past data from Africa suggests that the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. The effectiveness of JYNNEOS against monkeypox was concluded from a clinical study on the immunogenicity of JYNNEOS and efficacy data from animal studies. For more information, visit CDC.
Smallpox and monkeypox vaccines are effective at protecting people against monkeypox when given before exposure to monkeypox. Experts also believe that vaccination after a monkeypox exposure may help prevent the disease or make it less severe.
I think I’ve been exposed; should I get a vaccine?
The vaccine can work even if given after someone is exposed, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people get vaccinated within four days of the date of exposure for the best chance of preventing monkeypox. You can also get a shot up to two weeks after an exposure to help reduce symptoms, though a vaccination more than four days after an exposure may not prevent onset of the disease. If you’ve been exposed to monkeypox, please call Open Door Health immediately.
What if I can’t afford my copay?
Do not let insurance coverage or costs influence your decision to seek vaccination or testing. Open Door Health will not turn you away regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.