The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services is offering monkeypox vaccines, but it has a limited number of vaccine doses. Under the guidance of the Maryland Department of Health, Montgomery County is offering vaccinations to eligible residents who are at highest risk of contracting the virus.
Residents who are identified by public health officials as close contacts of current monkeypox cases will be offered vaccination. Public health staff from the County’s sexual health programs will be working with community-based non-profit organizations to identify residents who could be at risk and are contacting them directly to offer an opportunity to be vaccinated. As vaccine supply increases, additional residents who are at-risk will be identified and offered vaccination.
Currently, monkeypox vaccinations are being limited to:
- Known contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing and risk exposure assessments.
- Presumed contacts who may meet the following criteria:
- Know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox.
- Had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox.
Anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can catch monkeypox. However, a number of cases in the current outbreak are among gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.
People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. Even though it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, monkeypox can spread during intimate physical contact between people. Anyone can get monkeypox if they have close contact with someone who has the virus.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Person to person transmission occurs through:
- Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or bodily fluids.
- Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
- Touching items such as clothing or linens that previously touched the rash or body fluids of an infected person.
- Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
Symptoms can often include flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash and lesions on the skin. Most cases of monkeypox do not require hospitalization, but monkeypox is highly contagious in individuals with symptoms.
Residents who believe that they have been exposed to monkeypox should contact their health care provider or a community provider such as an urgent care center. Those without a health care provider can also call the Disease Control Program at 240-777-1755. People who believe they are in a high-risk group and meet the criteria for vaccination can contact their health care provider or the Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) clinic at 240-777-1751.
People who believe they have been exposed to monkeypox should avoid close contact with others until a health care provider examines them and provides testing for the monkeypox virus. They should avoid close contact with pets or other animals until they are examined and tested. If a person tests positive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that they stay isolated until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
Visit the County’s Department of Health and Human Services website for additional information about monkeypox.