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Fairfax County creates monkeypox vaccine eligibility form as cases rise

Monkeypox cases reported in the U.S. since May (via CDC)

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) More monkeypox cases have been reported in the Fairfax Health District than anywhere else in Virginia, as officials grapple with a national outbreak of the disease.

The district, which includes Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, has now seen 58 cases, as of Friday (Aug. 19), according to Virginia Department of Health data. That’s more than any region in the state other than Northern Virginia, which has 163 confirmed or probable cases overall.

All but two of the state’s monkeypox patients so far have been men. The median age is 32, and Black individuals account for the most cases at 92, or 37%, though cases have been recorded for every race and ethnicity.

While not on the level of COVID-19, the continued spread of the smallpox-like disease since Virginia reported its first case of the outbreak in late May has prompted some changes in how state and local health officials have responded.

Most recently, the Fairfax County Health Department introduced an online vaccine interest form on Wednesday (Aug. 17) that residents can fill out to determine their eligibility and potentially get in line for a vaccine appointment.

As of Friday, more than 300 people have submitted the survey, FCHD told FFXnow. Since the outbreak began, the department has administered 1,485 vaccinations, with partner organizations delivering another 171 doses.

“So far, the online screening form has been well received by people and has helped streamline the process,” FCHD spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said by email.

People can also see if they’re eligible for vaccination by contacting the department’s call center at 703-267-3511 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

According to Caldwell, the county has increased the availability of appointments by adding more clinic days at the Fairfax County and South County government centers, including a clinic on Saturdays at the former site.

While those remain the only sites for vaccinations, appointments can be made in person at the county’s health district offices during regular business hours.

With supplies still limited, the vaccine is only recommended right now for:

  • People with a known exposure to someone with monkeypox (VDH updated its guidance to include this category today)
  • People 18 and older who have sex with men and have had more than one or anonymous sexual partners within the past 14 days
  • Sex workers
  • Staff or patrons of establishments where sexual activity occurs, such as bathhouses and sex clubs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the vaccine be given within four days of when a person is exposed to the disease to prevent them from contracting it.

FCHD says it is preparing to administer smaller doses of the approved JYNNEOS vaccine, “which will stretch vaccine supply several-fold while maintaining a good immune response and vaccine safety,” as authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Aug. 9.

Nationwide, there have been 14,115 monkeypox cases in the ongoing outbreak, with more than 1,000 each reported in New York, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.

Graph via CDC

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