Governor McKee, Rhode Island Department of Health Announce Expansion of Monkeypox Vaccination Campaign

 Governor McKee, Rhode Island Department of Health Announce  Expansion of Monkeypox Vaccination Campaign

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)’s Monkeypox Task Force today announced an expansion of the state’s monkeypox vaccination efforts this week by opening vaccine eligibility to additional at-risk populations and scheduling two community clinics. These clinics will be for eligible people who cannot be vaccinated at one of the healthcare facilities that will be vaccinating patients in Rhode Island. Today’s news comes as Rhode Island is receiving additional vaccine doses following a request Governor McKee made on a recent call with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“At this time, the risk of monkeypox for most Rhode Islanders continues to be low. However, we are taking this global outbreak very seriously,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I want to thank our task force and our local partners on the ground who will be operating clinics and vaccinating individuals. We will also continue to advocate for more vaccine doses so we can meet the demand.”

“While we are making monkeypox vaccine available as soon as it comes into the state, there is still more demand than supply right now in Rhode Island and across the country. Additional prevention measures are very important for people at elevated risk, including for people who have started the monkeypox vaccine series,” said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. “Our vaccination campaign is just one component of our far-reaching response, which also includes broad community engagement about many of these prevention measures, close coordination with healthcare providers throughout the state, case interviews and contact identification, and a comprehensive approach to testing.”

National and local health officials are currently responding to a global outbreak of monkeypox. To date, 25 cases of monkeypox have been identified in Rhode Island. More than 5,100 cases have been identified in the United States. There is a vaccine to help prevent monkeypox virus infection. However, this vaccine is in short supply nationally. Rhode Island’s vaccination campaign is expanding because of a limited supply of additional vaccine received from the federal government this week.

Vaccine eligibility
CDC is using a very specific formula to allocate monkeypox vaccine to states, considering factors such as population size, current monkeypox case counts, and historical data on sexually transmitted infections. To date, Rhode Island had only been vaccinating people identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for monkeypox. Rhode Island’s expanded vaccine eligibility now includes:

People who are identified through a case investigation as close contacts of an individual with confirmed monkeypox, and
Rhode Island residents who:
Are 18 years of age or older, and
Are men who identify as gay, bisexual, queer, or who have sex with men and/or transgender individuals, and
Have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 30 days.

Vaccination sites
Open Door Health, the Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic, and Thundermist Health Center have received limited amounts of monkeypox vaccine. These clinics regularly provide care to people who are at elevated risk for monkeypox. Using the clinical judgement of staff and eligibility guidance from RIDOH, these sites will be contacting existing patients about vaccination.

RIDOH will be operating two community clinics or people who are clinically eligible for vaccine but are not able to get an appointment to be vaccinated through Open Door Health, the Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic, or Thundermist Health Center.

Friday, August 5th – Rhode Island College, Alger Hall (Room 110), 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, August 6th – Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, 375 Adelaide Avenue, Providence, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pre-registration is required for these clinics. People who are not pre-registered will not be vaccinated at these clinics. People can pre-register for these clinics at health.ri.gov/monkeypox. (People who cannot register online can call 401-222-5960.) People should arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before their scheduled appointments.

People being vaccinated in Rhode Island are receiving the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine series. People who are vaccinated at these community clinics will receive information about where and when to receive their second doses, roughly 28 days later.

In addition to being able to make appointments, people will have the ability to submit their information to RIDOH and/or Open Door Health. People will be contacted when additional vaccine is available. (The Open Door Health list is for people who are and are not Open Door Health patients.) Visit odhpvd.org to submit information to Open Door Health. Visit health.ri.gov/monkeypox to submit information to RIDOH.

An additional shipment of 900 doses of vaccine from the federal government this week is supporting the expansion of Rhode Island’s vaccination campaign. RIDOH is working with community organizations to host additional community vaccination events as more vaccine becomes available.

Monkeypox transmission
An individual becomes contagious when symptoms first appear. (Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.) Transmission occurs through close physical contact with body fluids, monkeypox lesions, items that have been contaminated with fluids or lesion materials (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact. The infectious period ends when all skin sores have crusted over. This may take between two and four weeks.

Nationally, many gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with other men have been diagnosed with monkeypox, especially those who have reported multiple or anonymous sexual partners. However, people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected with monkeypox.

Monkeypox prevention
In addition to getting vaccinated, there are other prevention measures that people can take. Before having close, physical contact with others, talk to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores. Additionally, if you have symptoms, particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox (even if you do not think you were in contact with anyone with monkeypox), or if you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox:

Stay home and isolate from household members
Contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible for an evaluation
Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact
Inform sex partners about any symptoms you are experiencing
Cover the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing
If contacted by public health officials, answer their questions to help protect others who may have been exposed

LPR News