Boston Public Health Commission Urges Awareness, Prevention Amid Monkeypox Outbreak
The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is reminding residents of prevention strategies during the global monkeypox outbreak that has resulted in 174 known cases in Massachusetts. The monkeypox virus causes a painful rash or sores, as well as flu-like symptoms. Knowing the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, understanding prevention strategies, and getting vaccinated if you are eligible, are critical steps to control this outbreak.
Monkeypox spreads primarily through close contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids. It can also be spread through touching objects that have been used by someone with monkeypox and respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact. Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact like sex, kissing or touching parts of the body with sores, but the risk of monkeypox is not limited to people who are sexually active. Monkeypox is not a “gay disease”, and it is important to reiterate that stigmatizing people because of a disease is unacceptable and can stop people from accessing prevention, care, and treatment. Anyone who has close physical contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk for infection. A person with monkeypox is considered infectious from the beginning of symptoms until the sores have crusted, scabbed over, fallen off, and a fresh layer of healthy skin has formed underneath, which can take from two to four weeks.
The JYNNEOS vaccine is FDA-approved to prevent monkeypox infection. The CDC recommends that the vaccine be given within four days of exposure to prevent the onset of symptoms. Receiving the vaccine within five to 14 days of exposure can reduce the symptoms but may not prevent them entirely. Given the limited national supply of vaccine, first doses will be prioritized for as many people as possible according to the Massachusetts State Department of Health. People who are vaccinated should continue to protect themselves by avoiding skin-to-skin contact including intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox.
“The JYNNEOS vaccine is an important tool in our efforts to curb the spread of monkeypox in our communities and to keep people safe,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “A key focus of our response to this outbreak is to ensure the vaccine is accessible to all residents who need it. The Boston Public Health Commission is working closely with the State Department of Public Health to remove any barriers that those who are eligible in getting vaccinated.”
Due to limited national supply, the vaccine is only being administered to:
- Known contacts as 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:
- You know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox; or
- You have had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in jurisdiction with known monkeypox cases.
The vaccine is available by appointment only at the following locations in Boston:
- Fenway Health: Appointments can be made by calling 617-927-6060, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- Massachusetts General Hospital Sexual Health Clinic: Appointments can be made by calling 617-726-2748, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
- Boston Medical Center: Appointments can be made by calling 617-414-2803, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- East Boston Neighborhood Health Center: Appointments can be made by calling 617-568-4500 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Vaccine appointments are also available on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Codman Square Community Health Center: register for an appointment directly on the Codman Square website. Appointments can also be made by calling 617-825-9660 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.. This site also offers vaccine appointments on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m..
For the latest information on monkeypox symptoms, prevention, and what to do if you think you may be infected, visit boston.gov/monkeypox. Information about monkeypox is available in nine languages, including English.