The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is expanding the eligibility criteria for who can get vaccinated to protect themselves against monkeypox.

Expanding who is eligible to get vaccinated against monkeypox is a critical step in preventing further spread of disease," said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “It is encouraging to see that the rate of new monkeypox infections is slowing, and this decision allows for even more Wisconsinites to protect themselves against monkeypox. DHS strongly encourages anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to do so.”

Under the new rules announced in a press release this morning, people eligible for the monkeypox vaccine include

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

As of September 6, 2022, 63 cases of monkeypox/orthopoxvirus have been identified in Wisconsin. Nearly 98% of Wisconsin cases have occurred in men. Most cases self-reported having sexual contact with other men. Anyone who develops a new or unexplained rash should contact a doctor or other health care provider immediately. In addition to eligible people getting vaccinated, everyone should avoid having close skin-to-skin contact with others who have new or unexplained rash. For those without a provider, help is available by dialing 211 or 877-947-2211, or texting your ZIP code to 898-211. 

Data collected by DHS show monkeypox is having a disproportionate impact on communities of color in Wisconsin. Many social and economic factors shape these inequities. The data show communities of color account for more than 50% of all monkeypox cases, with nearly 42% of cases occurring in Black Wisconsinites. While more than 50% of Wisconsin cases have occurred in communities of color, only 22% of vaccine doses have been administered to Wisconsinites who reported their race as being non-White.

There are currently 58 sites administering the monkeypox vaccine in the State. DHS calls upon all vaccinators to expand their outreach efforts to communities who are being most affected. DHS encourages vaccinators to collaborate with trusted providers and community-based organizations serving communities of color to help identify and remove barriers to getting vaccinated. Expanding vaccine eligibility criteria is an important step to take to make it easier for those who want to protect themselves against monkeypox to get vaccinated.

To date, DHS has ordered all vaccines allowable by the federal government. In total, 3,854 vials of JYNNEOS have been made available to Wisconsin. An additional 1,760 vials have been allocated to Wisconsin but are not yet available for ordering from the federal government. DHS continues to prioritize vaccines for Wisconsinites who are more likely to be exposed to monkeypox. Increasing the number of locations offering the vaccine also remains a top priority.

In a press conference this afternoon Dr. Ryan Westergaard announced that 75-80% of recent vaccinations have used the new lower-dose regimen of vaccine administration, extending the availability of the vaccine. He also announced that there have been some instances of hospitalization for monkeypox in the state.

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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