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More Angelenos Are Eligible For The Monkeypox Vaccine

A long line of people, some carrying umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun, stand on a sidewalk outside of a low-rise building with a large green lawn.
People waiting to be vaccinated against monkeypox at Watkins Park in Watts in late July.
(Brian De Los Santos
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With the cumulative number of monkeypox cases nearing 1,300 in Los Angeles County, health officials have broadened who is eligible for the limited number of shots they currently have.

The expanded criteria now includes people of any gender or sexual orientation who, in the past two weeks, had transactional sex in exchange for food, money, shelter or other goods. Also added are gay or bisexual men who recently had skin-to-skin or intimate contact, like hugging or kissing, at large venues or events.

The announcement opens the door to more women getting vaccinated — until now only women who were close contacts qualified.

The Jynneos vaccine is still available to people who met the prior eligibility criteria, including men who have sex with men or a transgender person and who were diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis in the past 12 months, are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or had anonymous sex or multiple partners within the past 21 days.

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

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

The vaccine remains in short supply. Earlier this month, the FDA told health care providers to split a one-dose vial of the monkeypox vaccine into five doses. The shift was good news for vaccine-strapped cities throughout the country because it meant what little supply is available could be stretched much further.

But then L.A. County and other cities and states were told that they would get significantly less vaccine than they’d requested.

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 via respiratory droplets or by touching objects or fabrics used by someone with monkeypox.

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

Health officials recommend avoiding close physical contact — both sexual and non-sexual — with people who have symptoms of an illness, sores, or rashes.

It's also possible to be infected by someone who does not have sores or a rash. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a period of three to 17 days during which someone may be infected but has not yet developed symptoms.

Public health officials estimate about 180,000 people out of L.A. County's population of 10 million are at elevated risk for monkeypox.

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