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Monkeypox Virus: What It Is and How to Schedule a Vaccine

As monkeypox cases in New York City continue to rise, New Yorkers have inquired about this type of orthopoxvirus and how to get the vaccine. Here is what you need to know.

This article will be updated as new information becomes available. 

In short: 

  • New York has declared a state of emergency as Monkeypox continues to spread
  • Cases in New York City continue to increase, but monkeypox infections are rarely fatal and most people infected recover on their own– though the process can be painful.
  • Transmission can happen during intimate activities, and also direct contact with a rash of someone who has the virus.
  • The current vaccine for the monkeypox is the JYNNEOS ™ and it is becoming available in waves for individuals at the highest risk of exposure. Check if eligible.  
  • Text MONKEYPOX to 692692 or MONKEYPOXESP for alerts in Spanish to know when appointments are available.
  • When available, appointments can be schedule here: https://docu.nyc/Mpox (page will say “under maintenance” when no appointments are available)
  • The vaccine is available to every New Yorker regardless of immigration status. The information collected is confidential and will not be shared.

What is the Monkeypox virus outbreak?

Although the names are similar, the monkeypox virus is not related to chicken pox. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. The symptoms are similar, but monkeypox infections are milder and are rarely fatal. People who are infected usually recover on their own. 

Since the first confirmed case in May of 2022, more than 1,053 cases have been confirmed in the United States though the figure could be higher. New York City saw 336 people test positive by July 13th. Cases are on the rise. 

Those infected by the monkeypox may see new rashes around their intimate parts, or bumps that look like blisters, or open sores. The rashes can be painful and last between two to four weeks. 

Also read: Health Care Access for Immigrants in New York

How does the monkeypox virus spread?

The monkeypox virus is most often spread through direct contact with a rash or sores of someone who has the virus, according to the New York City Department of Health (DOH). However, anyone can get it through contact with clothing, bedding and other items used by a person with monkeypox.  

Transmission can happen during sex or other intimate activities, including:

  • Oral, anal and vaginal sex
  • Hugging, kissing, cuddling and massage
  • Coming in contact with bedding or other items that have the virus on them during or after intimate activity.

“We’re asking New Yorkers to assess their own level of risk and exposure based on their behavior. Anyone can get and spread monkeypox, but the current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men,” a DOH press representative told Documented. “But if someone has a new or unexpected rash or sores, they should contact a healthcare provider.”

How to get the monkeypox vaccine

The current vaccine available to New Yorkers is the JYNNEOS ™, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of the monkeypox virus. It is available for individuals 18 and older, regardless of immigration status. The information collected is confidential and will not be shared with immigration enforcement agencies.

Getting the vaccine after an exposure can reduce the chance of getting the monkeypox virus, and, for those already infected,  can help reduce the symptoms. There are two doses that will have to be taken at least four weeks apart. 

At the moment, due to the limited supply of the JYNNEOSTM vaccine, eligibility has been restricted to those at highest risk of exposure. Currently, this is gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men and transgender, gender non-conforming, or gender non-binary persons ages 18 and older who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days

Appointments for the vaccine are required, and spots are made available in waves. To receive alerts about monkeypox in NYC, including appointment releases, by texting MONKEYPOX to 692692 or MONKEYPOXESP for alerts in Spanish. 

When appointments become available, you can schedule appointments here for clinics and vaccination sites located around New York City. 

Also read: LGBT in NYC, Where to Get Healthcare, Name Change Services and More

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