All Maryland residents who have had multiple or unknown sexual partners in the last two weeks are now eligible for the monkeypox vaccine, the Maryland Department of Health (MDOH) announced in a Thursday release.
The eligible demographic includes Marylanders who are at a higher risk of contracting the disease – including any men who have sex with men and immunocompromised individuals, the release said.
Any Marylanders whose sexual partners have been exposed to monkeypox in the last two weeks are also now eligible for vaccination.
The monkeypox vaccine was previously only recommended for Marylanders who may have been exposed to monkeypox in the last two weeks.
Monkeypox is a rare but serious illness that can infect animals and humans. The virus is mainly spread through physical contact.
Maryland’s monkeypox outbreak began in June and the state has reported 631 cases as of Wednesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Montgomery County has 74 cases of monkeypox as of Sept. 16, according to Maryland’s monkeypox dashboard.
The state has received more than 14,000 vials of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine from the federal government. More than 5,000 Marylanders have been vaccinated at 24 local health departments.
“Expanding eligibility will provide greater protection for individuals against MPX virus infection and reduce the risk of spread throughout the population,” MDOH Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services Bureau Director Dr. Peter DeMartino said in the release.
Marylanders can visit health.maryland.gov/monkeypox to pre-resister for an appointment to receive their first monkeypox vaccine dose. Individuals can coordinate their second vaccine dose with the first dose provider or local health officials.
Anyone who has already pre-registered for the vaccine and now meets the expanded eligibility criteria will be contacted, the release said. More than 2,800 Marylanders are pre-registered for vaccination.