As a growing monkeypox outbreak has spread throughout the U.S., the White House this week outlined a plan to send out tens of thousands of vaccine doses to quell the rise in cases. The Biden administration will send out 296,000 doses of the Jynneous vaccine, the only Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine for monkeypox.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed about 300 cases of the disease in the U.S., though the agency notes that the actual number could be higher. Health officials have warned that close contact, particularly sexual contact, is the main driver of the outbreak.
Here are the people whom the CDC recommends receive the Jynneous vaccine for monkeypox:
People who have had close contact with someone infected with monkeypox
Even if an individual did not have sexual contact with someone infected with monkeypox, the CDC is recommending that anyone who has had close contact of any kind with someone infected with the disease should receive the vaccine.
The agency noted that this recommendation applies to anyone who has had contact with an individual who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with confirmed monkeypox; has traveled outside the U.S. to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox; or has had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that only lives in Africa or used a product that comes from said animals, including game meat and certain creams, lotions and powders.
Men who have had sex with men
Early data from scientists investigating the latest monkeypox outbreaks have shown that men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases.
The virus has disproportionately hit gay and bisexual men, though health officials and LGBTQ advocacy organizations have stressed that the disease does not differentiate based on sexual orientation.
Gregg Gonsalves, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, stressed this point in an interview with The New York Times, saying that monkeypox is not a “gay disease” but was likely spread by someone who had a monkeypox lesion and “showed up at a gay rave in Europe, and it spread to those in that social and sexual network.”
Transgender people who have had sex in a place where monkeypox was present or spreading
In addition to gay and bisexual men, the World Health Organization also warned that transgender people — especially transgender women — and other gender-nonconforming individuals may be at a higher risk of monkeypox and should receive the vaccine.
Gonsalves also noted that the LGBTQ community should keep the risk of monkeypox in mind when considering whether to go out to a nightclub or a Pride event, saying that “if you’re going to go out and have sex, think about how you’re going to do it in what kind of setting, what kind of venue.”
Although researchers haven’t been able to prove that monkeypox is directly transmitted through sex, scientists haven’t been able to rule it out as a possibility given that sex involves close contact.
Healthcare workers who have come in contact with monkeypox
The CDC is also urging healthcare providers in the U.S. who have come in contact with patients with confirmed or probable cases of monkeypox to get the Jynneous vaccine.
Clinicians have also been told to keep a close eye out for patients who have rashes or lesions that look like monkeypox, especially those who have recently traveled to central or west Africa or certain parts of Europe where monkeypox has been detected.