The District is set to begin providing free monkeypox vaccines Tuesday, giving shots to people who have the highest risk of contracting the viral infection.
D.C. launched a website — preventmonkeypox.dc.gov — and began offering vaccination appointments Monday. The District only had about 300 doses, and demand is so high that the first batch of appointments was booked up within an hour.
District health officials say the risk of contracting monkeypox remains very low for the public. The virus is "transmitted from person to person through direct contact with body fluid or monkeypox lesions," during intimate bodily contact or "by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact," according to DC Health.
To qualify for the free vaccine, you must be a D.C. resident age 18 or older, plus identify as:
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- A gay or bisexual man
- A transgender or nonbinary person assigned male at birth
- A sex worker
- Staff at establishments where sexual activity occurs
DC Health hopes to have additional doses by the end of this week as the CDC is working on an updated distribution plan.
Vaccines will be offered Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays by appointment only. Shots will be given at a former COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Georgia Avenue near the old Walter Reed campus.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the District has confirmed seven cases of monkeypox so far. Dr. Anil Mangla, a DC Deptartment of Health epidemiologist, said none of those people had to be hospitalized.
Three cases have been reported in Maryland and two in Virginia.
Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious virus not usually found in the United States. A case was confirmed in Massachusetts on May 18, the first case found in the U.S. this year.
The CDC is tracking multiple clusters of the virus reported in early and mid-May in countries that don’t usually report monkeypox, including in North America and Europe, the agency said.
The World Health Organization said Saturday that the escalating monkeypox outbreak in more than 50 countries should be closely monitored but does not warrant being declared a global health emergency, NBC Washington reported.
Symptoms can include a rash, fever, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes. Go here for full info from the CDC.