SF health department expands mpox vaccine recommendations

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Friday December 9, 2022
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The San Francisco Department of Public Health has dropped eligibility criteria for the mpox vaccine. Photo: Gooch
The San Francisco Department of Public Health has dropped eligibility criteria for the mpox vaccine. Photo: Gooch

The San Francisco Department of Public Health on Friday dropped eligibility criteria for the mpox vaccine and now says that anyone at risk should be able to get the shot.

Cases of mpox, which the health department is now using for what was previously MPX and monkeypox, have fallen substantially, a December 9 health update stated. Additionally, supplies of the Jynneos vaccine continue to be plentiful. According to DPH's seven-day rolling average, there is now 0.1 new case per day. That's down from 20.7 cases per day in August.

There has not been a new mpox case in San Francisco since November 28, according to the DPH figures. Before that, there was one case each on November 21 and 17.

"Vaccine providers can offer mpox vaccine to any patients who may be at risk, and people who request vaccination should receive it without having to attest to specific risk factors," DPH stated in its update, as long as the Jynneos supply is available. The new vaccine guidelines align with the California Department of Public Health.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, the health department had been determining eligibility criteria for the vaccine since the outbreak emerged this spring. On October 31, DPH stopped renewing the public health emergency for mpox.

Initially, when the MPX outbreak hit San Francisco, it was primarily affecting men who have sex with men. At that time, there was a scramble for vaccines, which were in short supply from the federal government. The B.A.R. and other outlets reported on long lines at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, as men waited hours for the first of two shots of the Jynneos vaccine. (Two shots are required, given about a month apart.)

DPH steadily expanded eligibility criteria as more vaccine became available. That included sex workers, people who received notice from a venue or event of a potential exposure within the past 14 days; laboratory workers who routinely perform mpox virus testing; and clinicians who have had a high-risk occupational exposure (i.e., examined mpox lesions or collected mpox specimens without using recommended personal protective equipment).

In its latest update, DPH stated that while specific eligibility criteria have been removed, vaccination providers should still prioritize vaccination efforts for people living with HIV, people who are using or are eligible to use PrEP, sex workers, and people who have been diagnosed with a bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the past three months.

DPH stated that mpox case incidences have fallen "thanks in part to the vigorous public health and medical provider response and the robust willingness of the affected community to seek and receive vaccinations."

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