DPH to Expand Monkeypox Vaccination Access Again
Delaware Public Health is again expanding opportunities for getting vaccinated against the monkeypox virus. There are 35 reported cases in Delaware – 23 in New Castle County, 3 in Kent County and 9 in Sussex County. Vaccine eligibility is being expanded to include all gay, bisexual and transgender or nonbinary persons having sex with men, or females having sex with gay, bisexual, non-binary, or transgender males. Vaccine eligibility is also expanding to health care workers who are providing direct patient care to confirmed/suspected MPX cases in areas such as Emergency Departments, urgent cares, Federally Qualified Health Centers, DPH clinics, STI/HIV or sexual health clinics, and those at occupational risk such as laboratory staff that handle MPX specimens.
From the DPH release:
Recent data show the risk of MPX to exposed health care workers to be low even when use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is incomplete. However, to ensure the greatest level of protection against MPX, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends health care staff wear PPE consisting of gown, gloves, eye protection, and an N95 (or higher-level) respirator while caring for patients with suspected or confirmed MPX.
Vaccines remain available to those at highest risk including:
- Persons known or presumed to be exposed to someone with MPX in the last 14 days
- Certain individuals who have sex with men and who have had multiple sex partners within the past 14 days
- Those living with HIV or who are receiving HIV PrEP
- Immunocompromised persons (including those with cancer, solid organ or stem cell transplants, those taking immunosuppressive therapy, and individuals with autoimmune disease)
- Those treated for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the last six months
- Individuals traveling to an area with community spread of MPX cases.
- Those engaging in high-risk activities, including sexual practices, that increase exposure to MPX, such as:
- Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men and have had multiple, or any, anonymous sexual partners in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, this includes meeting partners through an online website, digital application (“app”), or social event (e.g., a bar or party)
- Transgender women or nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men
- Sex workers (of any sexual orientation/gender)
- Staff (of any sexual orientation/gender) at establishments where sexual activity occurs (e.g., bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs)
- People who fall into any of the identified high-risk categories who are also experiencing homelessness or incarceration
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not encouraging vaccination against monkeypox for the broader public or for everyone who is sexually active. Individuals should be aware that the vaccine, a two-dose series given 28 days apart, is not considered effective until two weeks after the second dose. Those at higher risk should continue using preventive measures and reduce engaging in high-risk behaviors both prior to, and after, vaccination to reduce the chance of continued spread of MPX in the community.
Eligible Delawareans may also receive monkeypox vaccinations at:
- Newark Urgent Care – Visit NewarkUrgentCare.org to view eligibility requirements and schedule an appointment. Vaccine clinics are on Thursdays, and there is no cost for the vaccine.
- Beebe Healthcare: Individuals can schedule an appointment at beebehealthcare.org/online-scheduling. Walk-ins will not be accepted.
- DPH clinics: Individuals can call the MPX hotline at 866-408-1899 for a screening evaluation. Walk-ins at DPH clinics will not be accepted. Monkeypox vaccinations at DPH clinics will continue to prioritize individuals at highest risk, as a result of confirmed or potential exposure to someone with MPX. As a result, your appointment may be scheduled a few days out.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of MPX are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. Most people who contract MPX will develop a rash, and some will develop flu-like symptoms beforehand. The flu-like symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, sore throat, cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills, or exhaustion. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they usually will develop a rash one to four days later.
If you suspect you are experiencing any symptoms associated with MPX you should immediately:
- Contact your health care provider and discuss your symptoms and concerns.
- Self-isolate until all lesions have resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
- Avoid being intimate with others.
- Make a list of your close and intimate contacts in the last 21 days.
It can take three to four weeks for all symptoms to fully heal. While there is no specific treatment for MPX, antivirals can be prescribed, though they are not always needed. To learn more information about monkeypox, please visit de.gov/monkeypox. DPH posts MPX case and vaccine data on the website along with resources for the general public, and provides a separate page for medical providers.
DPH launched a hotline for individuals with questions or concerns about MPX. The hotline number is 866-408-1899 and is operational Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Questions may also be emailed to DPHCall@delaware.gov. Both the hotline number and email address share staff with the COVID-19 Call Center. To learn more about MPX prevention programs and resources, visit de.gov/monkeypox.