DC Health implements new intradermal monkeypox vaccination strategy; What that means for residents

Health officials in D.C. announced that a new monkeypox vaccination strategy will be implemented to help increase the number of doses available to eligible residents.

D.C. Health said in a press release Friday, that under the new intradermal injection strategy, the monkeypox vaccine, which is a two dose vaccine, will be administered between the layers of skin rather than below the skin. Vaccinations offered through the new strategy have been shown to elicit a similar immune response and provide the same level of protection as the previous administration technique.

READ MORE: DC Health expands monkeypox vaccine eligibility requirements

Officials say the new strategy will allow for additional doses of the vaccine to be made available. It also allows for more equitable access to the vaccine by providing additional first doses to D.C. Health's community partner programs and walk-up appointments at the three D.C. Health monkeypox vaccination clinics.

You can see those locations below:

  • 3640 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE – Ward 8
  • 7530 Georgia Ave NW – Ward 4
  • 1900 I St NW – Ward 2

As a result of the new vaccination strategy, on Saturday, August 20, D.C. health will resume limited scheduling of second dose vaccine appointments based on the date of an individual's first dose. Those who have already received a dose will receive an email providing them with the option to schedule their second dose appointment as supply allows. 

Second doses will not be available through walk-up appointments at the D.C. Health monkeypox clinics.

Recently, D.C. Health updated the eligibility criteria for the vaccine to include District residents, individuals who work in the District, students enrolled at District universities/colleges, and persons affiliated with D.C. Health Programs that receive health care services in the District, who are 18 years or older, and meet one of the following criteria: 

  • All people, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks, including those currently considered highest risk: gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, transgender men, and transgender women
  • Sex workers (of any sexual orientation or gender)
  • Staff (of any sexual orientation or gender) at establishments where sexual activity occurs (e.g., bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs)

D.C. Health also launched a new monkeypox data tracker earlier this week, which will be updated every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m., and provide current case counts and vaccination information. The dashboard can be accessed at here

READ MORE: 50,000 monkeypox vaccines set aside for gay pride events, health officials say

Monkeypox Signs, Symptoms and Prevention from the CDC:

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder; and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through:

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

It’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. At this time, it is not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.

READ MORE: DC monkeypox online data tracker identifies cases in the District

Prevention Steps

Take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • In Central and West Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread monkeypox virus, usually rodents and primates. Also, avoid sick or dead animals, as well as bedding or other materials they have touched.

If you are sick with monkeypox:

  • Isolate at home
  • If you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.