(WFXR) — On Thursday morning, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced an expansion of the eligibility criteria for JYNNEOS, the vaccine against monkeypox, in order to align with the current vaccination criteria issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

As of Thursday, Aug. 25, the VDH says a total of 295 monkeypox cases — including 183 in the Northern Health Region at least six in the Southwest Health Region — and 11 hospitalizations have been reported in Virginia.

According to a statement released by the department, the criteria for monkeypox vaccination now include Virginia residents who meet one of the following descriptions:

  • People, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had anonymous or multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks
  • Sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender
  • Staff, of any sexual orientation or gender, at establishments where sexual activity occurs

Health officials say that Virginia has received a limited supply of the JYNNEOS vaccine, which it then manages to make sure both doses are available.

More specifically, as of Tuesday, Aug. 23, the VDH says has received 15,282 vials of the JYNNEOS vaccine; redistributed 8,899 vials to the Commonwealth’s 35 health districts; and administered 5,875 vials through local health departments and other healthcare providers.

If you fit the eligibility criteria, you are encouraged to visit your local health district website to learn about how you can access the vaccine.

Monkeypox is a contagious rash illness caused by the monkeypox virus. In most cases it resolves without treatment. It is spread by close contact with an infected person. Close contact includes touching skin lesions, bodily fluids, or clothing or linens that have been in contact with an infected person. Spread can also occur during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

While anyone can catch monkeypox if they have close contact with someone with monekypox, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, many of those affected in the current global outbreak are gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men. While this level of monkeypox activity is unexpected, the risk to the general population is low. People with monkeypox in the current outbreak generally report having close, sustained contact with other people who have monkeypox.

The highest risk activity currently is having sex with multiple or anonymous partners; avoiding these activities greatly reduces one’s risk of catching or spreading monkeypox. Monkeypox does not spread from person to person from walking past someone who is infected or through casual conversation with someone who is infected.

Initial symptoms of the disease often include flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, followed by skin lesions. However, some people have a rash without other symptoms. Although the majority of cases don’t require hospitalization, it is contagious and can be painful. If you have a rash that resembles monkeypox, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to get tested. Treatment is available for those at risk of severe illness.

Statement released on Aug. 25, 2022 by the Virginia Department of Health

For the latest information about monkeypox from the VDH, follow this link.