MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The Milwaukee City Health Department (MHD) is making it easier to get the monkeypox vaccine.
Eligible persons no longer need an appointment. They can just walk through the Menomonee Valley Clinic to get vaccinated.
There are still eligibility requirements. Due to its limited availability, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) exclusively offers the monkeypox vaccine to people who have a confirmed exposure or to people with certain risk factors, making them more susceptible to contracting the virus.
According to the DHS, these risk factors include:
- People who know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
- People who attended an event or place where there was a known exposure to monkeypox.
- Gay men, bisexual men, trans men and women, all men who have sex with men, and gender non-conforming/non-binary people who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days.
Doctors said anyone who meets the requirements should get vaccinated.
“We actually have an opportunity to prevent this from becoming a long-term problem,” said Dr. Dan Shirley, medical director of infection prevention at UW Health.
Although monkeypox is a new concern in the United States, there is a history of protection through a similar virus – smallpox.
Shirley said there was reason to believe that adults who received the smallpox vaccine before routine vaccination ended in 1972 might have some protection against monkeypox. The vaccine at the time had bad side effects.
He said a new, easier-to-tolerate vaccine had been developed in recent years in case smallpox becomes a problem again.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the new smallpox vaccine also protects against monkeypox.
“It’s lucky that they kind of developed this and did these trials to see that it worked and was effective,” Shirley said.
The CDC said the sooner an exposed person receives the vaccine, the better.
“Monkey pox is a bit different in that it has a long incubation period. So you have a few days after being exposed where you can get a vaccine and prevent monkey pox in many cases” , said Shirley.
If not prevented, the vaccine may lead to a less severe outcome, according to Shirley.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Monday that it will provide $11 million to support vaccine production in the United States.
As supply increases, more groups of people will become eligible to be vaccinated.
“Now is a good time to watch out for monkeypox, watch out for symptoms, and get vaccinated if you’re eligible,” Shirley said.
MHD administers the vaccine in two doses. When someone gets their first shot, they are given a date when they should aim to return for the second.