WASHINGTON – The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday encouraged mpox vaccination ahead of Pride celebrations.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) also reported an increase of cases in Chicago and Cook County.
The IDPH said that since March, 24 mpox cases have been confirmed with an additional two probable cases. All cases were among symptomatic men, a majority of whom had received two doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine.
“We are seeing an increase in mpox cases over the past month – a reminder that the threat of mpox is not over,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “We saw during last year’s outbreak that we have the tools to prevent mpox. We are asking Illinoisans at-risk for mpox to take precautions to reduce their exposure and get vaccinated – either for the first time or to complete the two-dose course. Mpox vaccine remains an important tool in stopping the spread of mpox and may help prevent serious illness.”
Dr. Christopher Braden, the CDC mpox response incident manager, said last year’s outbreak occurred with little warning and peaked in August 2022. He said currently there is only case per day being reported but that the outbreak isn’t over.
Three new studies have found that the JYNNEOS vaccine for mpox has been effective in preventing or minimizing mpox infections, whether done intradermal, in the skin, or subcutaneously, in the fat layer below the skin.
The effectiveness for the vaccine for people who had both shots was 86%. A single dose had a 36-75% effectiveness.
Mpox vaccination is recommended for anyone living in Illinois who:
- Had skin-to-skin or intimate contact (e.g., household members with close physical contact or intimate partners) with someone diagnosed with mpox
- Has had any of the following in the past six months:
- Sex at a commercial sex venue (like a sex club or bathhouse)
- Sex related to a large commercial event or in a geographic area (city or county for example) where mpox virus transmission is occurring
- Sex in exchange for money or other items
- Lives with HIV, especially persons not in HIV care or not regularly taking HIV medications
- Is eligible for or is currently taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to help prevent infection with HIV
- Is a sexually active bisexual, gay, non-binary, or transgender person.
- Sexual partners of those cited above or individuals who anticipate meeting the above criteria in the future
Braden said that while 1.2 million vaccine doses had been given in the past year, less than a quarter of those at risk had gotten the recommended two doses.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the White House National Mpox Response deputy coordinator, said at present it wasn’t know why those vaccinated had gotten mpox. The CDC is working with the Chicago Health Department to get answers and studies are being done.
Daskalakis said that while no vaccine is perfect, the more in a community who are vaccinated can stop or limit an outbreak.
“However, it is important to say that without renewed prevention efforts, especially vaccination, we are definitely at risk of a resurgence,” he said. “This is especially a concern as we approach summer with the planned and joyous gatherings that may, however, have high potential for skin-to-skin contact or that are associated with increased sexual activity.”
Most cases of mpox in the U.S. continue to be with gay and bisexual men and other MSM and transgender people, especially Black and Latine men.
The federal government is working through CDC to connect with local Pride organizations and health departments, both city and state, to increase outreach and education on mpox vaccination.
You can search for mpox vaccine locations here. For more information, visit the IDPH’s mpox dashboard.
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