The Allegheny County Health Department has expanded the pool of people who qualify for vaccinations against the monkeypox virus.
The county, in line with national vaccine shortages, has previously limited distribution to a narrow range of candidates. But according to a press release published today, it will now follow the initial eligibility requirements for pre-exposure Prophylaxis, a medication that protects against HIV infection, for distributing the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine.
This means vaccinations will be available to:
- Men who have sex with men, AND who also have multiple (2+) or anonymous sex partners
- Women who have sex with men who have sex with men, AND who also have multiple (2+) or anonymous sex partners
- Transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender non-binary individuals who have multiple (2+) or anonymous sex partners
Those who qualified for the vaccine prior to this latest expansion remain eligible, the health department says, including “Individuals who had experienced a high-risk exposure to someone who was diagnosed with monkeypox in the previous 14 days or individuals who experienced a high likelihood of exposure in the previous 14 days. Eligible individuals also included sex workers.”
“Allegheny County’s allotment of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine has allowed the Health Department and its partners to vaccinate those at highest risk for contracting monkeypox, to this point,” explains Dr. Barbara Nightingale, ACHD’s Deputy for Clinical Services. “After working with the Department of Health and assessing the needs of our community, we believe we have enough vaccine and a need to expand eligibility.”
Community health care providers offering the vaccine to all eligible individuals include Allies for Health + Wellbeing (5913 Penn Ave., East Liberty) and Metro Community Health Center (1789 S Braddock Ave., #410, Swissvale.)
AHN Positive Health Clinic (1307 Federal St., North Side), UPMC Center of Care for Infectious Diseases, (3601 Fifth Ave., Oakland), and Central Outreach Wellness Center (127 Anderson St., Suite 101, North Side) are only vaccinating current patients.
Vaccine appointments can also make an appointment with the Immunization Clinic (425 First Ave., Downtown) by calling 412-578-8062. Walk-ins are also welcome.
County health officials say they will continue to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to expand vaccine eligibility and clinic sites as more vaccines become available from the federal government.
Meanwhile, the department stresses the importance of testing and vaccinating as the most important tools for stopping the virus from spreading.
The health department also encourages those who suspect a monkeypox exposure or have developed legions to get tested in Allegheny County emergency rooms, urgent care centers, or appropriately equipped doctor’s offices. Residents are encouraged to contact their primary care provider if they are interested in getting tested for monkeypox.
Residents who do not have a primary care provider can get tested at the county’s Public Health Clinic (1908 Wylie Avenue, Hill District). No appointment is necessary. Clinic hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Wednesday noon to 7:30 p.m.
The health department’s nurses are available to answer questions, as well as provide guidance and resources to anyone who believes they have come in contact with monkeypox. ACHD nurses can be contacted Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling 412-687-2243.