Monkeypox Vaccination Q&A
UPDATE July 28, 2022: Since the posting of this blog, we announced we are opening a monkeypox vaccination clinic for two hours each weekday, starting on Monday, August 1, by appointment only.
Read Latest Monkeypox Vaccination Information
The blog below is as it was published on July 13, 2022.
Cases of monkeypox have been reported in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including the United States. We have vaccination, testing, and treatments to help contain this outbreak. Monkeypox does not spread easily from person to person, and the virus is spreading mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox. As of this posting, multiple people in Wisconsin have tested positive for monkeypox, including in Dane County.
Is monkeypox deadly?
The strain of the monkeypox virus that is spreading with the current outbreak is rarely deadly. Nearly everyone who gets this form of the disease will survive. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get very sick or die. While this strain is rarely deadly, the symptoms can be extremely painful, and people might have permanent scarring resulting from the rash.
How can we prevent the spread of monkeypox?
In order to prevent the further spread of monkeypox in the United States, we must test and vaccinate people who may have been exposed to contain the outbreak. You can help by avoiding close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox, calling your doctor if you have a new or unexplained rash, and isolating at home if you are diagnosed with monkeypox. Some people are eligible for monkeypox vaccination. Read on to learn the details.
Is there a vaccine for preventing monkeypox infection?
Yes, there are two vaccines: JYNNEOS and ACAM2000. JYNNEOS is the preferred vaccine for nearly everyone. You can read more about the differences in the vaccines on the CDC website.
Is there enough vaccine?
In the US, there is currently a limited supply of JYNNEOS, although more is expected in the coming weeks and months.
Is the vaccine effective?
- When given before or shortly after a recent exposure, vaccines can help protect people from getting sick with monkeypox. However, no data are available yet on the effectiveness of these vaccines in the current outbreak.
- To better understand the benefits of these vaccines in the current outbreak, CDC will collect data on any side effects and whether the way the person was infected makes any difference in how well the vaccine protects them.
How many doses do I need?
- The JYNNEOS vaccine is a two-dose series given at least 28 days apart. People are fully vaccinated about 2 weeks after their second shot of JYNNEOS.
- Even once vaccinated, people should protect themselves from infection by avoiding close, skin-to-skin contact, including intimate contact, with someone who has monkeypox.
Eligibility & Timing
Who is eligible to get a vaccine?
JYNNEOS vaccine is being allocated for use for the following individuals:
- Known close contacts of individuals with monkeypox who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments
- Presumed contacts who may meet the following criteria:
- Know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox
- Had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox
Keep in mind this is a rapidly evolving situation and vaccination guidance can change. If you live in Dane County and believe you are eligible, call us at (608) 243-0556. If you live in another county, please contact your local health department.
How does JYNNEOS work?
- JYNNEOS contains a live virus that does not replicate efficiently in human cells.
- The vaccine is administered as two injections, four weeks apart.
- It takes 2 weeks after the second dose to reach full effectiveness.
Are there side effects for JYNNEOS?
- Some people report pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site.
- People with a severe allergy to any part of the vaccine (gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, egg protein) should not get it.
When can I get vaccinated?
You can get vaccinated after exposure. This is known as Post-Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP.
- CDC recommends that the vaccine be given within 4 days from the date of exposure for the best chance to prevent onset of the disease.
- If given between 4 and 14 days after the date of exposure, vaccination may reduce the symptoms of disease, but may not prevent the disease.
- PEP is important for preventing spread of monkeypox, especially when done in combination with isolation once symptoms appear.
Certain people at high risk (for example, men who have sex with men) with a possible exposure can be vaccinated, even without a documented exposure. This is called PEP++.
- Right now, PEP++ is only available in areas with high case counts and is not currently available in Wisconsin.
- PEP++ is for vaccinating people who may not have documented exposure to someone with confirmed monkeypox but are in a social network with people who have tested positive, such as men who have sex with men.
- When coupled with self-isolation and other prevention measures when symptoms first occur, PEP++ may help slow the spread of the disease in areas with large numbers of monkeypox cases.
Some people can also be vaccinated before exposure. This is known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP.
- At this time, vaccination before exposure (as PrEP) is only available for people whose jobs may expose them to the monkeypox virus, such as laboratory workers who handle specimens.
- At this time, most clinicians in the United States and laboratory workers not performing the orthopoxvirus generic test to diagnose orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox virus, should not receive monkeypox vaccine PrEP.
Where can I get vaccinated?
- Given the limited supply and that there are few cases in Wisconsin, vaccination is only available to people with monkeypox exposure and to certain laboratory staff who could be exposed through their work.
- If you live in Dane County and think you may have been exposed to monkeypox, please call us at (608) 243-0556.
- If you live outside of Dane County, please contact your local health department.
Will you have a vaccination clinic?
Not at this time. We are only allowed to vaccinate people on a case-by-case basis.
Resources for Learning More
- CDC - Monkeypox
- CDC – Considerations for Monkeypox Vaccination
- CDC – Monkeypox Prevention
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Monkeypox
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Outbreaks in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Monkeypox News Release
These answers adapted from CDC’s vaccination page.