WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Medical experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, say monkeypox vaccines should be prioritized for men who have sex with men.
- The WHO on Saturday declared the monkeypox virus a public health emergency of international concern.
- The surge in monkeypox cases marks the first time it has ever spread significantly outside of Africa, sparking concern.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has said men who have sex with men (MSM) should be among those given priority for the monkeypox vaccine in the U.S.
As of July 22, there were nearly 17,000 cases reported globally, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a global health emergency over the weekend.
The surge in monkeypox cases has caused concern since it marks the first time it has ever spread significantly outside of West and Central Africa, where the virus is endemic.
Monkeypox could spread beyond the MSM communities, though the current outbreak is that cases have been concentrated among men who have sex with men, and particularly those who have multiple sexual partners, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Saturday.
Administering vaccines against monkeypox is part of the global strategy to control the virus. As of last Wednesday, the U.S. had distributed almost 200,000 doses.
During an interview with MSNBC on Sunday, Dr. Fauci was asked whether MSM communities should be given the vaccine first. He said he thought that this should be the case.
“If you look at the truly broad protective nature, you really want to get people who are at risk because of behavior. For example, the MSM population who are on pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV—the very fact that they are on pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV would immediately put them into that classification where they very likely should get vaccinated in a preventive way.
“So there are two pills to that; one in which you know you’ve been exposed—clearly those people—but ultimately, people who are at risk through sexual networks or what have you.”
In Washington D.C., sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender are eligible for the vaccine. The staff at establishments where sexual activity occurs are also prioritized. The MSM community is also eligible for the vaccine if they have had multiple or anonymous sex partners within the last 14 days.
In New York City, only MSM individuals who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the previous 14 days are eligible for the vaccine.