At Sharp HealthCare, we are closely monitoring the monkeypox outbreak, which has seen cases steadily rise worldwide since May 2022.
Am I eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine?
The County of San Diego is currently prioritizing vaccination for individuals 18 or older who:
- Have been identified as intimate with or otherwise close contacts of a person diagnosed with monkeypox.
- Have been intimate or otherwise had skin-to-skin contact with a person who has a monkeypox-like rash.
- Have attended an event where a diagnosed case has been reported.
- Are part of a community in which monkeypox infections have been reported. At this time, this includes members of the LGBTQ+ community, including gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men and have had more than one sex partner in the last month.
Some individuals may be excluded from vaccination eligibility due to potential allergic reactions to vaccine ingredients.
Please call 211 to find San Diego County vaccination events.
Frequently asked questions
What is the monkeypox vaccine?
The monkeypox vaccine is called Jynneos, and is a smallpox vaccine that has been approved as a vaccine against monkeypox.
Individuals are considered fully vaccinated after two doses of the Jynneos vaccine spaced at least 28 days apart, and protection typically lasts several years. It is OK to receive your second dose more than 28 days after your first dose. There is some immunity after receiving one dose; however, it is still recommended that vaccinated individuals experiencing symptoms isolate at home.
I may have been exposed to monkeypox. When should I receive the vaccine?
The vaccine should ideally be administered within 4 days after exposure to help prevent the onset of the disease. If given between 4 to 14 days after exposure, vaccination may help reduce symptoms but may not prevent infection.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral infection caused by the monkeypox virus, which is in the same family of viruses as the one that causes smallpox. Until recently, it was rare, with most cases seen in Central and West African countries, primarily the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, many recent cases have been linked to international travel in non-African countries and attendance at events with activities in which people engage in close, sustained skin-to-skin contact.
How is monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox is usually spread via direct person-to-person contact through sores on the body, saliva or other body fluids. This can occur during sexual activity, kissing, cuddling or touching parts of the body of a person with monkeypox. It can also be spread by respiratory droplets during prolonged close (within 6 feet), face-to-face contact but this form of transmission is uncommon.
Additionally, handling clothing or linens that have been worn or used by someone with monkeypox can lead to infection. And pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Common symptoms of monkeypox include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
The rash evolves through stages — first resembling pimples, then blisters and firm pustules, then crusted sores. It can appear on the face, inside the mouth or on other parts of the body, including the hands, feet, chest, genitals and anus.
Some people notice a rash 1 to 3 days after experiencing a fever, with other symptoms following. Others may only have a rash, which can take several weeks to heal and can lead to scarring. In most people, symptoms — with or without a rash — develop 7 to 14 days after exposure but can occur up to 21 days after exposure. Additional symptoms include chills, headache, muscle aches and backache.
Who is at greatest risk of getting monkeypox?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of monkeypox in the U.S. is currently believed to be low. However, anyone who comes into contact with a person with monkeypox can get it.
So far, most people with monkeypox have been adults. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 98% of recent monkeypox cases worldwide have been reported in men who have sex with men. Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are encouraged to reduce their number of sexual partners, reconsider sex with new partners, ask partners about recent illnesses or rashes, and exchange contact details with partners to enable follow-up, if needed.
Who may become severely ill if infected with monkeypox?
The virus is believed to be riskier for people with compromised immune systems. This includes those with HIV or individuals taking certain medications.
Others at risk for severe illness due to monkeypox include people who are younger than age 8 and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As with other pox viruses, there is concern a history of skin conditions, such as eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can increase the risk for serious illness due to monkeypox.
Complications of monkeypox infection include:
- Bacterial skin infection
- Pneumonia or other conditions
- Monkeypox rash involving the eyes, mouth or other areas of the body where infection might create a greater threat to health, including the genitals and anus
How can the spread of monkeypox be prevented?
Along with vaccination — recommended for people who have been in close contact with individuals who have monkeypox or who had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in an area with known monkeypox cases — the CDC recommends you:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
What should I do if I think I may have monkeypox?
If you think you may have monkeypox, follow the CDC's isolation guidelines:
- Do not share items that have been worn, used or handled with other people or animals.
- Wash and disinfect items that have been worn or handled and surfaces that have been touched.
- Avoid close physical contact with other people.
- Avoid crowds and congregate settings, such as residential facilities, dormitories and prisons.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after direct contact with the rash.