AUSTIN (KXAN) — After U.S. health leaders expanded eligibility requirements for the monkeypox vaccine, Austin Public Health said it’s following suit and offering the shot to those same at-risk populations. This comes as APH said it confirmed its first local case of a woman being diagnosed with monkeypox last week.
The new eligibility criteria from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention allows those at risk to get the Jynneos vaccine before they are exposed to the virus, rather than after a known or possible exposure, APH explained. Scroll to the bottom of this story for how to know if you are one of those considered “at risk.”
APH has partnered with Wellness Equity Alliance to distribute vaccines here in Austin. The groups began administering doses over the summer, and so far, APH said 4,000 vaccines have been administered. The Jynneos vaccine requires a person to get two doses to be considered fully vaccinated.
“These vaccines have been critical in reducing the spread of monkeypox here in our community and protecting people from the severe pain the virus can cause,” said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes in a press release. “We encourage anyone who believes they may be at risk to see if they’re eligible for a vaccine and schedule an appointment.”
You can determine your eligibility through a questionnaire on Wellness Equity Alliance’s website as well as schedule a vaccine appointment. If you need help, you can call the APH Equity Line at (512) 972-5560.
Additional vaccines are being offered through a few other community partners, APH said. Nearly 4,000 vials of the Jynneos vaccine have been allocated to these partners to assist with the expanded eligibility.
While Austin-Travis County confirmed its first case of a woman being diagnosed with the virus, there’s a total of 62 cases in women reported so far in Texas, according to state data.
As of Sept. 23, there have been 176 confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases in Travis County, according to APH’s dashboard. APH explained the Texas Department of State Health Services tests for orthopoxvirus cases. Positive orthopoxvirus cases are considered presumptive monkeypox cases. Those samples are then sent to the CDC where they are confirmed through additional tests.
Preventing monkeypox spread
APH is urging the public to follow these precautions as monkeypox cases rise in the community:
- Be fully clothed and avoid skin-to-skin contact with strangers.
- Limit close and or/intimate contact to people you know (close contact includes sharing items like drinks and blankets).
- Wear well-fitting masks in close quarters when social distancing isn’t possible to reduce direct exchange of mouth/nasal fluids.
- Wash/sanitize your hands as well as cleaning surfaces.
- Stay home if you feel sick or experience any symptoms.
CDC eligibility for monkeypox vaccine
Those who the CDC identifies as being at risk and able to get the monkeypox vaccine are:
- Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, transgender or nonbinary people who in the past six months have had
- A new diagnosis of one or more nationally reportable sexually transmitted diseases (i.e., acute HIV, chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis)
- More than one sex partner
- People who have had any of the following in the past six months:
- Sex at a commercial sex venue
- Sex in association with a large public event in a geographic area where monkeypox transmission is occurring
- Sexual partners of people with the above risks
- People who anticipate experiencing the above risks