(Bloomberg) -- New York health officials will begin offering monkeypox vaccination to vulnerable groups at a temporary clinic in the city, where 28 cases have been identified as of Wednesday.
New Yorkers who may have been exposed to monkeypox can get the vaccine, city health officials said Thursday. Eligible groups include “all gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (cisgender or transgender) ages 18 and older who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days,” the health department said in a statement.
While shots were earlier offered to close contacts of confirmed cases, the department is expanding availability to eligible people who may have been exposed. Those who have a partner showing symptoms of monkeypox or who have met partners through online apps or social media platforms, such as Grindr, Tinder or Scruff, or at raves and saunas, should especially consider vaccination, the health department said.
The dating app Grindr partnered early on with European health authorities to ensure information about the outbreak was reaching users on its platform. Though the current outbreak has been concentrated within the LGBTQ community, anyone can be infected through intimate contact or contact with infectious sores.
Monkeypox usually presents as a rash that is sometimes accompanied by other flu-like symptoms or swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms usually resolve on their own within a few weeks without treatment. The US outbreak has expanded to 156 cases, with no deaths linked to the disease, and there are more than 3,300 cases globally, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Members of the LGBTQ+ community have always been fierce advocates for their rights, including, and especially, when it comes to receiving timely access to health care,” NYC Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said in the statement. “Vaccination against monkeypox is a critical tool to allow New Yorkers to protect themselves and to help slow the spread.”
Even after a recent exposure, vaccination reduces the chance of infection as well as symptoms if infection does occur, the health department said. New Yorkers will get Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine, a two-shot regimen administered four weeks apart. It has been found to be much safer than Emergent BioSolutions’s ACAM2000, which is also authorized against monkeypox.
Vaccines were sent to states with monkeypox cases and health departments have been focused on offering the shots to high-risk contacts, the CDC has said. It’s recommended that the first dose of Jynneos be administered within four days of exposure for optimal protection.
The monkeypox vaccine will be available at the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic. Appointments are recommended, the department said, but some walk-ins can be accommodated.
So far, other states with monkeypox cases haven’t expanded vaccine availability. On Thursday afternoon, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet to discuss the monkeypox outbreak and could consider expanding vaccine eligibility further.
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