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Monkeypox Vax Eligibility Adds Those With ‘Potential Exposure’

A man receives a monkeypox vaccine on the inside of his forearm, as a health worker leans over his hand and administers the shot.
Kit Williamson said the intradermal Jynneos shot "didn't hurt at all."
(Jackie Fortiér
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Los Angeles County health officials announced broader monkeypox vaccine criteria Thursday that will extend eligibility to more people at high risk of potential exposure.

The monkeypox vaccine is still open to Angelenos who met the prior eligibility criteria, including gay and bisexual men and transgender men, people who have transactional sex, people with HIV or people with recent exposures. The expanded criteria now includes sexual partners of people in any of those groups and people who anticipate they may be exposed.

Select health or laboratory workers are also eligible. “This includes research and clinical lab personnel working with or testing for orthopox viruses, and healthcare workers who are caring for suspected or confirmed monkeypox cases,” Dr. Rita Singhal, the county's chief medical officer, said at a press conference.

Children and teenagers can also get vaccinated when accompanied by a responsible adult and a signed consent form.

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People who test positive for monkeypox and their close contacts were already eligible for the shots.

A powerpoint slide listing monkeypox vaccine eligibility.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)

A single dose of monkeypox vaccine provides protection — this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that people at risk of monkeypox who have not received the shot are 14 times more likely to get infected.

The preliminary data, collected from 32 states from the end of July through early September, is the first concrete evidence that the Jynneos vaccine is providing at least some protection against infection from the monkeypox virus circulating in the current outbreak.

The CDC is still recommending that people receive two doses of the Jynneos vaccine 28 days apart for maximum effectiveness.

New monkeypox cases in L.A. County have declined since their peak in August, but people are still contracting the virus. About 97% of people infected are male, 93% are LGBTQ+ and the average age is 35, Singhal said.

So far there have been more than 2,100 cases in L.A. County and 84 people have been hospitalized. One person died.

Monkeypox is caused by a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox. The virus causes painful skin lesions and is spread through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the lesions, as well as respiratory droplets or touching objects or fabrics used by someone with monkeypox.

Although anyone can contract monkeypox, gay and bisexual men who have had multiple partners in the past two weeks are at the highest risk in this outbreak.

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Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.

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