Montgomery Co. will offer monkeypox vaccine to at-risk residents

Montgomery County, Maryland, will distribute a limited amount of monkeypox vaccine to those considered most at-risk.

In a statement Wednesday, the county’s Department of Health and Human Services said that residents who have had a sexual partner in the last 14 days who has been diagnosed with monkeypox — or those who have had close contact with the virus — will be given priority for this current round of vaccinations.

Vaccine doses will be provided to:

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

Though the department says the overall risk of monkeypox is low, 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,” the department said.

According to the heath statistics website Global,health, the virus has spread from only a handful of known cases in Europe in early May to over 13,000 cases in over 60 countries. Almost 2,000 of those cases have been found in the United States, and at least 48 have already been found in Maryland.

View Global Health’s interactive monkeypox tracking map

Many in the medical and virology communities are pressuring the World Health Organization to declare monkeypox a pandemic.

Residents who believe they have been exposed to monkeypox are asked to contact either their health care provider or a community provider, such as urgent care. Those without a health care provider can also call the Disease Control Program at 240-777-1755.

Those who believe they are in the high-risk group and meet the criteria for vaccination are asked to contact their health care provider or the sexually transmitted infection clinic at 240-777-1751.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox can be spread by:

  • 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 also spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

According to the county Department of Health and Human Services, the monkeypox virus cannot be spread by those not exhibiting symptoms.

Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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