Sunday, July 14, 2024

State expands monkeypox vaccine eligibility

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — North Carolina has broadened its monkeypox vaccine eligibility in response to increased cases in the state, according to the state health department.

As reported by News & Observer, the Jynneos vaccine is now available to men who have sex with men and transgender individuals that report the following in the past 90 days: 

  • Having multiple or anonymous sex partners 
  • Being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection
  • Receiving HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the medicine used to prevent HIV, the virus that causes AIDS

The new guidance expands on previous guidelines. People who have been in close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox in the past 14 days still qualify for the vaccine.

As of Friday, the state reported 27 cases of monkeypox, an increase from 11 cases on July 15. There are no confirmed cases in New Hanover County. 

On July 14, NCDHHS released its response plan for addressing monkeypox outbreaks across the state and designated New Hanover County as one of seven North Carolina counties to receive vaccines. 

According to the department, nearly all cases are in men who have sex with men, but the virus can affect anyone. 

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, exhaustion and headache and sometimes a sore throat and cough. A rash resembling pimples or blisters may occur in the following two or three weeks. 

Close skin-to-skin contact, including sex can spread the virus, along with infected saliva, respiratory droplets or fluid from active skin lesions. Many cases can resolve on their own, but severe cases can occur. 

People that have been exposed to infected individuals or are experiencing symptoms are encouraged to get tested at their local health department or health care provider, where there is no shortage of tests according to the NCDHHS. Plan guidance says keep the rash covered and avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been seen by a health care provider. 

New Hanover County residents can call the Pandemic Operations Call Center at 910-798-6800 to discuss treatment options.

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