San Diego County health officials said Tuesday they will prioritize limited supplies of monkeypox vaccine for sexually active gay, bisexual and transgender men.
Nationally, monkeypox cases have occurred primarily in men who have sex with other men who attended circuit or rave parties.
There have been three confirmed and three probable monkeypox cases in San Diego County.
“While it’s not inherently a sexually transmitted disease, close or body contact with somebody with monkeypox can pass the virus on to you,” said Cameron Kaiser, the county’s deputy public health officer.
With the national supply of vaccine extremely limited, the county Health and Human Services Agency is focusing on vaccinating people at higher risk of contracting and having severe illness from the virus.
Health officials said they are working with representatives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities on messaging and in planning for monkeypox vaccination clinics. Two vaccination clinics will take place this week ahead of San Diego Pride.
“We appreciate people’s willingness to get vaccinated and we hope to expand soon, but given the low supply of vaccine right now, we need to prioritize distribution of the doses we have,” Kaiser said.
Monkeypox is a viral infection that can spread through contact with body fluids, sores on the body of someone who has monkeypox, or from shared items such as clothing and bedding that have been contaminated with fluids from sores of a person with monkeypox.
Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to, but milder than, the signs and symptoms of smallpox, a related but extinct virus. They include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash usually develops within 1 to 3 days after the appearance of fever.
“It’s important to remember that the risk of human monkeypox for the general public remains very low,” Kaiser said.