Delaware public health officials focus efforts on Monkeypox vaccine

DOVER, Del. – Delaware public health officials are focusing their efforts on protecting high risk individuals from Monkeypox.

Officials with the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) are currently focusing their efforts to immunize Delawareans who have already been exposed to the Monkeypox virus.

“Those who have known exposure to Monkeypox,” explained Dr. Rick Hong, interim director for DPH. “As you can imagine, if we know that you are in contact with Monkeypox you’re at highest risk because you’re more likely to become infected versus someone who’s never been exposed.”

Additional efforts are also underway to get the vaccine to those who have not been exposed but are still at high risk.

“We’ve been focusing on post-exposure prophylaxis,” Dr. Hong explained. “We’re hoping that we can push out more of the pre-exposure prophylaxis for those who are at high risk of getting the infection again.”

Dr. Hong says they anticipated a vaccine shortage, but are currently working to increase supply and distribution efforts which will require training as this vaccine is injected just under the skin rather than into the muscle.

“Recent CDC guidance is expanding our vaccine supply through the intradermal route,” Dr. Hong stated. “It’s not as easy as it sounds, it requires some training, and different supplies, so it may take time for many providers to switch to your traditional vaccine administration route to the intradermal.”

On Monday, those living with HIV, as well as those who take medications to prevent HIV infection, are eligible for the vaccine.

“HIV, as well as other immunocompromised conditions, you can have a higher risk for severe disease, even though the rate of hospitalization and death is extremely low in this country with Monkeypox we want to make sure those who are at highest risk of a bad outcome are first protected,” Dr. Hong said. “So, as a result, those with HIV will be at the top of our list for getting that vaccine out.”

Beginning Aug. 22, individuals in the following higher risk categories will have access to the vaccine. More details about where vaccines will be available will be shared later in the week.

Access will be expanded to include those engaging in high-risk activities, including sexual practices, that increase exposure to MPX such as:

  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men and have had multiple (more than one) or any anonymous sexual partners
  • Transgender women or nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men
  • Sex workers (of any sexual orientation/gender)
  • Staff (of any sexual orientation/gender) at establishments where sexual activity occurs (e.g., bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs)

Individuals should be aware that the vaccine, a two-dose series given 28 days apart, is not considered effective until two weeks after the second dose. Particularly those at higher risk should continue to use preventive measures and reduce engaging in any high-risk behaviors until that time.

Most people with Monkeypox do not require hospitalization and may isolate at home. Monkeypox spreads between people through direct contact with an infectious rash, body fluids, or by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

DPH launched a hotline for individuals with questions or concerns about MPX. The hotline number is 866-408-1899 and is operational Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Questions may also be emailed to DPHCall@delaware.gov. Both the hotline number and email address share staff with the COVID-19 Call Center.

To learn more about MPX prevention programs and resources, visit de.gov/monkeypox.

Categories: Delaware, Health