What you need to know about monkey pox

DC has seen 21 cases of monkey pox, placing it in the top five jurisdictions with cases.

Why it matters: Vaccines are in demand, but difficult to obtain. The city has already exhausted its supply.

What is going on: The federal government says it will offer nearly 300,000 vaccines in the coming weeks, but DC isn’t sure how many injections will come.

  • The district will not unlock more appointments until it has more supply.

Situation: Most DC cases occur in men who have sex with men, says Kimberly Sommers, DC Health’s interim director.

Given the limited vaccines, the city says they should be prioritized for the highest-risk groups. That includes:

  • Men who have had sex with men and had multiple or anonymous partners in the past two weeks.
  • Trans women or non-binary individuals assigned a male at birth who have sex with males.
  • sex workers
  • People who work in places where sex takes place, such as saunas or bathhouses.

The big picture: There have been more than 350 cases in the US, according to CDC data. No state has seen three-digit cases.

Worth nothing: Officials have struggled with how to frame public posts for fear it could add to further stigma and falsely suggest that monkeypox is limited to spreading among gay men, the Washington Post reports.

  • Sommers says DC Health doesn’t want to stigmatize a group that’s already stigmatized, but wants to make sure that high-risk groups learn about vaccines.

What they say: †[W]We have to protect this community,” Sommers added.

  • And from a supplier perspective, there is great demand for wider vaccine access and screening in higher-risk patients, said Sarah Henn, chief health officer at the Whitman Walker Clinic.

It comes down to: Monkeypox has not been declared a national emergency and the risk to the general population remains low, Sommer says. People need to know what the symptoms of monkeypox are, including what the rash looks like.

  • And anyone experiencing symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
  • If you have monkey pox, you will need to isolate until the lesions have completely healed, which can take between 2-4 weeks.