PROVIDENCE, RI — Rhode Island’s Monkeypox Task Force has expanded vaccination efforts by opening vaccine eligibility to additional at-risk populations and scheduling two community clinics, but supply remains limited.
Gov. Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the increased vaccine access through the clinics, for eligible people who cannot be vaccinated at one of the healthcare facilities vaccinating patients in Rhode Island. The news comes as Rhode Island receives additional vaccine doses requested by Governor McKee a recent call with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“While we are making monkeypox vaccine available as soon as it comes into the state, there is still more demand than supply right now in Rhode Island and across the country. Additional prevention measures are very important for people at elevated risk, including for people who have started the monkeypox vaccine series,” said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy.
A global outbreak of monkeypox has made its way to the U.S. in recent months, including 24 recent cases in Rhode Island, according to the CDC. In late July, there were only four reported cases of the disease in Rhode Island. Nonetheless, the risk of monkeypox to Rhode Islanders remains small, according to the RIDOH.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. RIDOH presented the following information and tips on protecting yourself from the disease:
How Monkeypox Spreads
How monkeypox is spread:
Transmission occurs through close physical contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact. This includes anyone with prolonged skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids, such as through crowded settings or sexual contact. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.
Unlike COVID-19, which spreads easily through the air, the risk of monkeypox to the general public is currently low unless they engage in higher-risk behaviors. Having sex with multiple sex partners can increase a person’s risk of becoming infected when monkeypox is spreading in the community.
How to protect yourself:
- Consider covering exposed skin in dense, indoor crowds
- Don’t share bedding or clothing with others when possible
- Before having close, physical contact with others, talk to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores
- Stay aware if traveling to countries where there are monkeypox outbreaks
- Talk to your healthcare provider if you were potentially exposed. You may be a candidate for a post-exposure vaccination to prevent the development of the disease
How to protect others:
If you have symptoms particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox (even if you do not think you were in contact with anyone with monkeypox), or if you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox:
- Stay home if you are feeling sick
- Contact a health care provider as soon as possible for an evaluation
- Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact, until a medical evaluation has been completed
- Inform sex partners about any symptoms you are experiencing
- Cover the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing
- Wear a well-fitted mask
- If you are contacted by public health officials, answer their confidential questions to help protect others who may have been exposed
While many of the identified cases are within networks of self-identified gay and bisexual men, trans people, and men who have sex with men, people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected and spread monkeypox.
There are vaccines to help prevent monkeypox virus infection. Vaccination within four days of exposure can prevent illness and if given within 14 days of exposure can significantly reduce severity of illness should the person develop illness. However, monkeypox vaccines are currently in short supply nationally and in Rhode Island.
Who can get vaccinated?
- People who are identified through a case investigation as close contacts of an individual with confirmed monkeypox
- Any man who:
- Is age 18 or older AND
- Is a Rhode Island resident AND
- Identifies as gay, bisexual, queer, or who has sex with men and/or transgender individuals AND
- Has had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past month (30 days)
Where can people get vaccinated?
Open Door Health, The Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic, and Thundermist Health Center have received limited amounts of monkeypox vaccine. These clinics regularly provide care to people who are at elevated risk for monkeypox. Using the clinical judgement of staff and eligibility guidance from RIDOH, these sites will be contacting their existing patients about vaccination.
In addition, RIDOH will offer two community clinics for people who are clinically eligible for vaccine:
- Friday, Aug. 5 – Rhode Island College, Alger Hall (Room 110), 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, 4-8 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 6 – Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, 375 Adelaide Ave., Providence, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Pre-registration is required for these clinics. People who are not pre-registered will not be vaccinated at these clinics. Please use the links below to register.
People should arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before their scheduled appointments.
If you need help registering for a monkeypox vaccination, please call the RIDOH Health Information Line at 401-222-5960.
People being vaccinated in Rhode Island are receiving the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine series. People who are vaccinated at these community clinics will receive information about where and when to receive their second doses, roughly 28 days later.
Vaccine Interest Notification List
There is significant demand for monkeypox vaccine at this time. The State is working to make more vaccine available in Rhode Island. If you are not able to get an appointment to be vaccinated through clinics being held by Open Door Health, The Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic, Thundermist Health Center, or a community clinic, you can submit your information to the Vaccine Interest Notification List. We will contact you when vaccine is available.
Sign up for the Vaccine Interest Notification List: https://bit.ly/3oPcXi3
If you need help signing up for the Vaccine Interest Notification List, please call the RIDOH Health Information Line at 401-222-5960.
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