(NEXSTAR) – More than 4,600 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the U.S. since May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the nation’s health regulators are rushing to deploy thousands of vaccine doses. Should you be getting the vaccine?
Because there is currently a limited supply of the monkeypox vaccine in the U.S., health officials are allocating doses to those who are at the greatest risk of being infected. This includes individuals who may be exposed to monkeypox while working or those who may have been exposed to monkeypox, the CDC explains.
While 300,000 monkeypox vaccine doses have been sent out from the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile, and nearly 800,000 more will soon be available for distribution, you may still need to meet certain eligibility requirements set by your local health department to receive a shot.
The New York City Health Department, for example, is limiting monkeypox vaccine access to those who are gay, bisexual and men who are sexually active with men, as well as transgender, gender non-conforming, or gender non-binary persons who are 18 years old or older and had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last two weeks. Those who may have been exposed to monkeypox or are notified by the Health Department due to close contact with someone with the disease are also eligible to get the vaccine.
Vaccine eligibility for those living in San Francisco is similar but also includes sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender identity; persons who were notified by an event or venue of a potential exposure to the disease; and laboratory workers performing monkeypox virus testing.
For the best chance of preventing monkeypox, the CDC recommends getting the vaccine within four days of exposure. Between four and 14 days after exposure, the vaccine can reduce symptoms but may not prevent the disease.
If you are hoping to get the monkeypox vaccine, check with your health care provider or local health department to determine your eligibility.
Despite the majority of monkeypox cases being reported among men who have sex with men, anyone can contract the virus. Monkeypox is mainly spread through skin-on-skin contact but can also be transmitted through touching linens used by someone who is infected.
Besides getting the vaccine, the CDC recommends avoiding skin-to-skin contact with people with rashes or scabs that could be monkeypox; not touching the bedding, towels or clothing of a person with monkeypox; and washing your hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based sanitizer.
If you become sick with monkeypox, the CDC says you should isolate. Your isolation should continue if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms like a sore throat, nasal congestion or cough. Officials say you should only leave isolation to seek a health care provider or in case of an emergency. When leaving isolation, you should cover any rash and wear a mask.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.