Q&AZ: Can people get a monkeypox vaccine?

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2022 - 11:02am
Updated: Friday, July 15, 2022 - 3:21pm

Q&AZ is supported in part by Abrazo Health

monkeypox virion
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
An electron microscopic image depicting a monkeypox virion.

As of July 13, Maricopa County has reported two confirmed and seven probable cases of monkeypox. And it’s likely we’ll hear about more cases in the coming weeks. Through our Q&AZ Project, a listener asked where people can get a vaccine. 

The only people who can get the vaccine are those who have a known exposure to the virus. Dr. Nick Staab is a medical epidemiologist with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. 

"Once you've been diagnosed with monkeypox, the vaccine is not likely to be effective," said Staab. "This vaccine was developed for smallpox, we are using it for monkeypox, because the two viruses are related."

So it’s available for emergency use only. There’s also an antiviral medication and like the vaccine, was developed for smallpox.

"The supply we're currently using is coming out of our strategic national supply," he said. "The federal government has asked the manufacturer of both the medication and the vaccine to increase supply over the coming months." 

That’s because the county is expecting the number of cases to increase. Monkeypox is transmitted through close skin-to-skin contact.

Staab says when more vaccine becomes available, the county will likely move from offering vaccine to people who've had a known exposure to offering the vaccine to communities where there is more transmission occurring. 

Editor’s note: This case numbers in this story have been updated to reflect Maricopa County’s data as of July 13.

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