Wisconsin expands eligibility for monkeypox vaccine

63 cases have been identified in Wisconsin so far
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 10:22 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 5:52 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin health officials have expanded eligibility criteria for who can get the monkeypox vaccine.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) says the following groups can get the vaccine:

  • Known contacts who are identified by public health through case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments.

Also presumed contacts who may meet the following criteria:

  • People who know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • People who attended an event or venue where there was known monkeypox exposure.
  • Gay men, bisexual men, trans men and women, any men who have sex with men, and gender non-conforming/non-binary people who have had multiple sexual partners in the last 14 days.
  • People considered to have an elevated risk of exposure to monkeypox in the future:
  • Gay men, bisexual men, trans men and women, any men who have sex with men, and gender non-conforming/non-binary people who expect to have multiple or anonymous sex partners. This may include people living with HIV and people who take HIV pre-exposure because of increased risk of sexually transmitted infections.
  • Clinical laboratory personnel who perform testing to diagnose orthopoxviruses, including those who use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for diagnosis of orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox virus.
  • Research laboratory workers who directly handle cultures or animals contaminated or infected with orthopoxviruses that infect humans, including monkeypox virus, replication-competent vaccinia virus, or recombinant vaccinia viruses derived from replication-competent vaccinia virus strains.
  • Certain health care providers working in sexual health clinics or other specialty settings directly caring for patients with sexually transmitted infections.

Because the vaccine is still fairly new, experts say they’re looking for more information on how well it protects people.

“It’s been promising enough in clinical studies and antibody studies that we think it offers enough protection to be a very useful public health tool,” Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for the DHS Bureau of Communicable Disease, said, “and as research comes out we’ll be able to answer that with more precision about just how effective it is.”

As of Tuesday, Sept. 6, there are 63 cases of monkeypox identified in Wisconsin. Nearly 98 percent of cases occurred in men. Most of the cases reported having sexual contact with other men.

Monkeypox often comes with a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. The illness usually lasts two-to-four weeks.

DHS says monkeypox has having a “disproportionate impact on communities of color in Wisconsin.” Communities of color account for more than 50 percent of all monkeypox cases. DHS says that is connected to social and economic factors. In Wisconsin, only 22 percent of vaccine doses have been given to people who reported being non-White.

The monkeypox vaccine is available at 58 sites in Wisconsin. CLICK HERE to find a location near you and for more information about monkeypox.