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Mpox (Monkeypox) Frequently Asked Questions

 
What is mpox?
Mpox (pronounced “em-pox”) is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The monkeypox virus is in the same family of viruses as the virus that causes smallpox. Mpox and smallpox symptoms are similar, but mpox symptoms are milder and rarely fatal.

How is mpox spread?
Mpox is spread primarily through close skin-to-skin contact with infectious sores or body fluids (particularly during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex). Mpox can also spread through contact with materials (such as clothing, bedding, or towels) that have been used by someone with mpox. Respiratory spread is possible during prolonged face-to-face contact, but this route of transmission is thought to be very rare.

What are the symptoms?
Mpox symptoms usually appear between 5 to 21 days after exposure. Most people with mpox will get a rash or sores – often located on or near the genitals or anus, but sometimes in other areas like the hands, feet, chest, or face. Sores may also appear inside the body, including the mouth, vagina, or anus. Other symptoms include fever/chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches, and headache.

What should I do if I have a new or unexplained rash, sores, or other symptoms?
If you experience mpox symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. This is especially important if you think you may have been exposed to someone with mpox. Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been checked out by a health care provider, and take a break from going out to bars, clubs, and other events – especially if they involve close, skin-to-skin contact.

Is there a cure for mpox?
Although there is no cure, there are treatments available for people diagnosed with mpox. The antiviral drug tecovirimat – also known as TPOXX – can help prevent or minimize severe mpox disease. Your health care provider can also prescribe other medications that can help reduce pain and irritation from the rash or sores.

Is mpox a sexually transmitted infection?
Mpox can more accurately be described as “sexually transmissible”. In other words, sex is just one of the ways that mpox can be spread. In the current outbreak, mpox is spreading primarily through close contact with infectious sores or body fluids. This may include skin-to-skin contact that occurs during sex, but any prolonged close contact with someone who has mpox can spread the virus.

How can I lower my risk of getting mpox during sex?
Talk to your partner about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including the genitals and anus. If you or your partner have recently been sick, currently feel sick, or have a new or an unexplained rash or sores, do not have sex, and see a health care provider immediately.

How can I protect myself at crowded places like parties, clubs, and festivals?
Before attending, think about whether close, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur at the event. If there is minimal clothing and skin-to-skin contact, try to avoid any rashes or sores you see on others and minimize skin-to-skin contact when possible. Enclosed spaces, such as back rooms, saunas, or sex clubs where there is minimal or no clothing have a higher likelihood of spreading mpox.

What is the mpox vaccine?
The JYNNEOS vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of mpox in people over 18 years old. It also has FDA emergency use authorization for people under 18 years old. The vaccine can be given before a person is exposed to mpox to help protect them from getting the disease. It can also be given soon after a person is exposed to help prevent the disease or make it less severe.

How is the mpox vaccine made?
The JYNNEOS vaccine is made using a vaccinia virus. This is a virus that is related to the mpox and smallpox viruses. The vaccinia virus is weakened so that it cannot cause smallpox, mpox, or any other infectious disease.

How is the mpox vaccine given?
The JYNNEOS vaccine can be given in two ways. “Subcutaneous injection” means that the vaccine is given beneath the skin in the upper arm. “Intradermal injection” means that the vaccine is given between the layers of skin, usually on the forearm. If you prefer a more discrete location, you can ask for an intradermal injection on the upper back below the shoulder blade or on the shoulder muscle.

Which way should I get the mpox vaccine?
The intradermal method is currently being used for most people over 18 years old. However, you can ask for the vaccine to be given subcutaneously if you have concerns about keloid scars or prefer getting the vaccine subcutaneously. Be sure to tell the vaccine provider your preference. The subcutaneous method is being used for people under 18 years old.

How many doses of the mpox vaccine do I need?
The JYNNEOS vaccine is given as two doses at least 4 weeks apart. A person will start to build protection in the days and weeks after their first dose, but will not have maximum protection until two weeks after the second dose. This is when you are considered fully vaccinated.

Where do I get the mpox vaccine?
The mpox vaccine is widely available across L.A. County. You can find a list of public vaccination sites here. Multiple sites are available for walk-up, while others may require an appointment.

Do I need insurance to get the mpox vaccine?
The JYNNEOS vaccine is available for free regardless of insurance status.

Do I need consent from my parents to get the mpox vaccine?
If you are 12 years or older, you can consent to receive the mpox vaccine. If you are under 12 years old, you must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a responsible adult.

How well does the mpox vaccine work?
Studies show that the JYNNEOS vaccine is helping to prevent mpox in the current outbreak, but more studies are needed to understand exactly how well the vaccine works. A recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that unvaccinated people were 9.6 times more likely than fully vaccinated people to develop mpox.

Is the mpox vaccine 100% effective?
We are still learning how effective the JYNNEOS vaccine is in the current outbreak, so people who are fully vaccinated should continue taking steps to reduce their risk. Avoid close contact with anyone who has a rash or other symptoms and avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with mpox has used.

What are the side effects of the mpox vaccine?
Side effects are common at the injection site for both the subcutaneous and intradermal methods. These may include redness, swelling, soreness, firmness, and/or itching. These symptoms are more common with the intradermal method. Other side effects may include muscle pain, headaches, nausea, fever/chills, or feeling tired.

Does the mpox vaccine leave a scar?
The JYNNEOS vaccine does not leave a scar for most people. However, because of concerns that the intradermal method could result in keloid scars (thick, raised scars that can be pink, red, or the same color or darker than the skin around them), the CDC recommends that people who have a history of keloid scars be given the vaccine subcutaneously. Be sure to tell the vaccine provider if you have concerns about keloid scars.

Who should get the mpox vaccine?
The JYNNEOS vaccine is recommended for anyone who may be at current or future risk of getting mpox. In L.A. County, anyone who requests vaccination can receive it without having to disclose any information about their personal risk. You can find the latest information about mpox vaccine eligibility here.

Should I get the mpox vaccine if I am HIV-positive?
It is important for people with HIV, especially people with advanced or uncontrolled HIV, to get vaccinated because they are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they get mpox. The JYNNEOS vaccine has been studied in people with HIV and has been found to be safe.

Should I get the vaccine if I have mpox symptoms?
If you have mpox symptoms, it is too late to get the vaccine. Talk to a doctor about your symptoms as soon as possible and ask for advice about testing and treatment.

Should I get the vaccine if I already had mpox?
If you already had mpox, you are likely protected from getting it again and vaccination is not recommended at this time. However, more studies are needed to determine the duration of immunity.

Should I get the mpox vaccine if I had the smallpox vaccine?
People who were vaccinated for smallpox before this outbreak should still get the mpox vaccine. This is because protection from the smallpox vaccine may lessen over time.

Where can I learn more?
As more information becomes available, APLA Health will update this page. You can also check out additional information from the CDC, the California Department of Public Health, and the L.A. County Department of Public Health. Building Healthy Online Communities has resources available in both English and Spanish.