San Diego, CA–County health officials are encouraging gay, bisexual, transgender, and other men who have sex with men to abstain or practice safer sex to avoid getting and spreading the monkeypox virus.
There have been three confirmed and three probable monkeypox cases in San Diego County. Nationally, monkeypox cases have been primarily in men who have sex with men who attended circuit or rave parties.
“We want our community to be mindful of how monkeypox spreads,” said Cameron Kaiser, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “While it’s not inherently a sexually transmitted disease, close or body contact with somebody with monkeypox can pass the virus on to you. Ask potential partners about any rashes, and if you’re sick yourself, please stay home and consider seeking medical attention.”
With the national supply of vaccines is extremely limited, the County is focusing on vaccinating people at higher risk of contracting and having severe illnesses from the virus. This includes confirmed contacts of those infected and at-risk patients of County STD clinics.
The County continues working with representatives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities on messaging and planning for monkeypox vaccination clinics. Two vaccination clinics will take place this week ahead of San Diego Pride. In addition, the County worked with the community on two recently completed vaccination clinics for invasive meningococcal disease.
About 600 JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine doses will be administered this week, by appointment only, to San Diego County residents in the following groups:
People at higher risk of exposure to monkeypox, especially gay, bisexual, and transgender persons and other men who have sex with men.
People who participate in circuit/rave parties and Pride festivities.
“We appreciate people’s willingness to get vaccinated and we hope to expand soon, but given the low supply of vaccines right now, we need to prioritize distribution of the doses we have,” Kaiser said. “If you suspect you may have been exposed to monkeypox, stay home, avoid contact with others, and call your medical provider. We can work with them to help protect you too.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that it’s not clear how the people were exposed to monkeypox, but early data suggest that gay, bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases.
However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk of contracting the virus.