New York City on Thursday began offering the monkeypox vaccine to certain people who are at high risk for the illness based on their sexual activity.
The temporary vaccine clinic, located in Chelsea, expanded eligibility for the two-dose Jynneos vaccine to “all gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (cisgender or transgender) ages 18 and older who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days,” according to the city’s health department.
Monkeypox is a rare disease related to smallpox defined by raised lesions on the skin. It is spread through close contact with an infected person’s rash, bodily fluids, or respiratory secretions.
Vaccine appointments have been booked up through Monday. Prior to the opening of the clinic, New York City hospitals were already offering the vaccine to people who may have had recent exposure to monkeypox.
The vaccination rollout in New York comes on the heels of a decision from the United Kingdom to begin offering monkeypox vaccines to men who have sex with men on Tuesday.
"Members of the LGBTQ+ community have always been fierce advocates for their rights, including, and especially, when it comes to receiving timely access to health care," New York City health commissioner Ashwin Vasan, MD, PhD, said in a statement. "Vaccination against monkeypox is a critical tool to allow New Yorkers to protect themselves and to help slow the spread of monkeypox in our city."
Anyone can get and spread monkeypox, but most cases in the current outbreak are among gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, according to the press statement from the city's health department.
Health experts maintain most people will not need a monkeypox vaccine because the disease is rare and requires close physical contact to spread. Currently, there are 173 reported cases in the U.S., 30 of which are in New York City.
Most people are still not eligible for a monkeypox vaccine. Though certain people in New York City are now eligible, the city only has about 1,000 doses available, according to a tweet by Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.
While you can’t get the shot if you’re already experiencing fever, rash or sores, if your partners are showing these symptoms, you should make a vaccine appointment. The vaccines are free of charge.