WASHINGTON, DC – Today, DC Health announced a new intradermal injection monkeypox vaccine strategy that will greatly increase the number of doses available to eligible District residents. Based on our current inventory, cases, and the newly approved strategy, on Saturday, August 20, DC Health will resume limited scheduling of second dose vaccine appointments, based on the date of an individual's first dose.
In order to stop the spread of monkeypox, it is critical to surround the disease with a wall of immunity by providing the vaccine to the greatest number of high-risk individuals as quickly as possible. DC Health's new vaccine strategy is designed to ensure that more doses of the monkeypox vaccine will be available to close contacts and the recently expanded pool of eligible residents. The new strategy also allows for more equitable access to the vaccine by providing additional first doses to DC Health's community partner programs and walk-up appointments at the three DC Health monkeypox vaccination clinics. DC Health joins several cities from around the nation in adopting this new vaccination strategy.
Under the new vaccination strategy, the monkeypox 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, while allowing for additional doses of vaccine to be made available.
On August 20, DC Health will begin sending emails to individuals who have already received their first dose to provide them with the option to schedule their second dose appointment. Emails will be sent out as supply allows with appointments provided on a rolling basis based on initial vaccine date. Second doses will not be available through walk-up appointments at the DC Health monkeypox clinics.
The monkeypox vaccine is a two-dose series, however, DC Health had previously postponed the administration of the second doses in order to provide additional vaccine coverage to the highest risk population.
DC Health recently updated the eligibility criteria for the monkeypox vaccine to include District residents, individuals who work in the District, students enrolled at District universities/colleges, and persons affiliated with DC Health Programs that receive health care services in DC, are 18 years of age or older and meet at least one of the following criteria:
- All people, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks, including those currently considered highest risk: gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, transgender men, and transgender women; or
- Sex workers (of any sexual orientation or gender); or
- Staff (of any sexual orientation or gender) at establishments where sexual activity occurs (e.g., bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs)
All District residents are invited to pre-register for a vaccination appointment at PreventMonkeypox.dc.gov, however, those who are not currently eligible will only be contacted if eligibility changes and appointments are available.
Earlier this week, DC Health launched a new monkeypox data tracker which will be updated every Wednesday at 11:00 AM and provide current case counts and vaccination information. The dashboard can be accessed at PreventMonkeypox.dc.gov.
Monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness that can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. It can spread during intimate physical contact between people, including sex, kissing, and hugging. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact or when a person touches fabrics, such as bedding and towels, used by a person with monkeypox.
Initial symptoms of monkeypox often include flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash and lesions on the skin. Although the majority of cases do not require hospitalization, monkeypox can be dangerous, contagious, and uncomfortable. Anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider about whether they need to get tested, even if they don't think they had contact with someone who has monkeypox.
Residents are encouraged to visit PreventMonkeypox.dc.gov for the latest information on the virus.