Updated at 3:55 p.m. The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) is signing up high-risk residents to get the monkeypox vaccine.
As of July 25, the number of cases in Virginia reached 72. There are 54 cases in the Northern Virginia region, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
“Alexandria Health Department is working with state and regional partners to be able to provide vaccines to high-risk individuals. Information will be made available as soon as possible on who is eligible and how to sign up for vaccine,” AHD said. “AHD is also coordinating with local healthcare providers and with the VDH on local testing availability, care for MPV (monkeypox) cases, and provider education and preparedness.”
AHD will not disclose whether there are cases in Alexandria.
“At the moment, VDH is reporting regionally until the case numbers are large enough that confidentiality cannot be compromised,” AHD Director David Rose told ALXnow. “If/Once that happens in the Northern Region, individual district cases, including Alexandria’s, will be reported publicly.”
Anyone can get the monkeypox virus, a rash illness likened to a milder form of smallpox, and most of the reported cases involve gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM).
“This group, particularly MSM with multiple sex partners, is currently at greatest risk,” VDH said. “The risk to the general public is considered low at this time.”
People can get infected with monkeypox by getting into close contact (hugging, kissing, sharing clothes, having sex) with someone who is infected. Infected people may see lesions, like pimples or blisters on the faces, in their mouths, their hands, feet and genitals. Symptoms also include fever, headache, muscle aches/backache, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion and chills.
The illness can last up to a month.
Alexandria is vaccinating only Virginia residents. Only adults 18 and older can get the vaccine if, in the last 14 days are:
- Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men and have had multiple (e.g. more than 1) or anonymous sexual partners; OR
- Transgender women and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men and have had multiple (e.g. more than 1) or anonymous sexual partners; 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, sex clubs); OR
- Persons who attend sex-on-premises venues (e.g. bathhouses, sex clubs)
Eligible residents can fill out this vaccine eligibility form to get a vaccine.
“If you are eligible, and there is sufficient vaccine supply, Alexandria Health Department will contact you via email, text message, or phone call when vaccine appointments are available,” AHD says on the form. “Once you submit this form you will get a confirmation email that we have received your information. You do not need to fill out this form more than once.”
AHD advises the following to decrease your chances of getting and spreading monkeypox:
- Always talk with your sexual partner(s) about any recent illness, and especially any new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the genitals and anus
- If anyone has a new or unexpected rash or sore, do not have sex or close physical contact
- Wash hands, sex toys and bedding every time before and after sex or other intimate activities
- When making plans, consider the level of risk. Going to clubs, raves, saunas, sex parties, and other places with skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact with many people increases the risk of exposure
Photo via VDH
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