Boston Public Health Commission Reminds Eligible Residents to Get Vaccinated Against Monkeypox to Slow Spread of Virus
The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is reminding Boston residents that vaccines can help protect against monkeypox illness when given before or soon after being exposed and are encouraging eligible residents to get vaccinated. This guidance comes after the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced 41 new cases of monkeypox and new protocols for administering the JYNNEOS vaccine that will expand the state’s supply, enabling more residents to get vaccinated.
To increase the number of vaccine doses available, the JYNNEOS vaccine is now being administered intradermally (into the skin), as opposed to in the muscle, at a lower dose that still provides the same immune response, following guidance from the CDC and FDA. The intradermal regimen includes two doses of the vaccine. Vaccination before or soon after exposure is highly effective at preventing monkeypox infection or reducing the severity of infection. Monkeypox most commonly spreads through direct skin to skin contact with a monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs. It can also spread through contact with surfaces that have been exposed to the monkeypox virus. Anyone who comes in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk for becoming infected.
“I’m optimistic that the new approach to monkeypox vaccination will allow us to vaccinate more people, help ensure vaccines are distributed equitably, and ultimately support our efforts to control this outbreak,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “Getting vaccinated against monkeypox is an effective way to prevent disease. I strongly encourage all residents who are eligible for vaccination to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.”
Currently, the following individuals who live or work in Massachusetts are eligible to receive the vaccine:
- Known contacts identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments (this may include sexual partners, household contacts, and healthcare workers); as well as
- Presumed contacts who meet the following criteria:
- Know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox or
- Had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox.
It is particularly important that education and vaccination efforts support men who have sex with men (MSM) and the broader population of people they may be in close intimate contact with. While anyone can get monkeypox, the current outbreak’s spread among networks of MSM poses a threat to BIPOC LGBTQ+ individuals, a group that faces high barriers to care and poorer health outcomes due to centuries of oppression and marginalization. As BPHC responds to this unprecedented outbreak, supporting Boston’s BIPOC LGBTQ+ residents by improving access to care and pushing back against anti-LGBTQ+ stigma will remain a top priority.
Infections with the type of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak are rarely fatal. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die. People infected with monkeypox virus are also required to self-isolate until the rash fully scabs and skin heals over, which can require anywhere between 2-4 weeks of isolation.
The JYNNEOS vaccine is currently available at the following locations in Boston by appointment only:
- Boston Medical Center: Register for an appointment directly at www.bmc.org/monkeypox. Appointments can be made by calling 617-414-2803 Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM.
- Codman Square Health Center: Please register for an appointment directly at https://www.codman.org/medical-service/x-clinic/. Appointments can also be made by calling 617-822-8271 Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM and 8:30 PM. This site also offers vaccine appointments on Saturday between 9 AM and 1 PM.
- Fenway Health: Appointments can be made by calling 617-927-6060 Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM.
- East Boston Neighborhood Health Center: Appointments can be made by calling 617-568-4500 Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM. This site also offers vaccine appointments on Saturdays between 10 AM and 2 PM.
- Massachusetts General Hospital Sexual Health Clinic: Appointments can be made by calling 617-724-7000 Monday through Friday between 8:00AM and 4:30PM.
Additional locations offering the vaccine in Massachusetts can be found at mass.gov/monkeypoxvaccine.
For the latest information on monkeypox, including prevention, how to identify symptoms, and resources available to residents, visit boston.gov/monkeypox.