The New York City Health Department will begin offering the monkeypox vaccine preemptively to men who have sex with men and have had multiple recent partners. Appointments are available as soon as Friday.
The agency made the announcement two days before Pride festivities kick off in the city. It had already been collaborating with NYC Health and Hospitals in offering the vaccine to those who were close contacts with someone suspected or confirmed to be infected monkeypox. This new release expands that eligibility and follows the example of countries like Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic is for now the only one offering the preventative to the expanded eligible group of “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.” Anyone can spread or get monkeypox, but the majority of the current outbreak—28 cases in New York City—have just been reported among the above group of people. Long lines have already been noted at the clinic as apparently the website for appointments does not work.
Eligible New Yorkers can receive the JYNNEOS vaccine, a vaccine that has been approved by the FDA for the prevention of monkeypox in people 18 and older.
“While this is an important step, it’s equally critical to remember that identity is not a risk factor, and we must all be vigilant not to stigmatize communities that may be disproportionately impacted,” said Peter Meacher, Chief Medical Officer at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, in the department’s press release.
There have been 3,300 confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide. The United States has a confirmed case number of 156 with the majority of those cases being reported from California, New York, Illinois, and Florida.The virus is usually spread by direct contact with rash or sores from an infected person, though it can also be possibly spread by contact with items used by a person with monkeypox. Respiratory droplets can also be passed from person to person but by prolonged face-to-face contact, according to the NYC Health Department. Twenty-eight people have tested positive for orthopoxvirus (cases likely to be monkeypox) in New York City.
The Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic, located at 303 Ninth Avenue, will be open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 11:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m. The website does state that appointments are recommended but they do have a limited number of walk-ins that are available.