Vaccines meant to help prevent monkeypox are now available on a limited, targeted basis across the state, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
Public health experts are tracking an outbreak of monkeypox that has spread across several countries that don’t normally report the disease, including the United States. No cases related to this outbreak have yet been identified among Wyoming residents.
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. “This disease is usually characterized by a rash and can also involve other symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and tiredness,” she said.
Harrist noted monkeypox is rarely fatal but can be unpleasant and painful and can cause serious illness in some people.
“Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal contact,” she said. “Fortunately, it does not spread nearly as easily as do familiar viruses such as influenza or COVID-19.”
“We’re recommending vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and also for people who may be more likely to get monkeypox based on the current outbreak and how it has been spreading,” Harrist said. “While anyone can get monkeypox, vaccine eligibility is limited at this point to those people who are at highest risk due to limited supplies.”
The following adults are eligible for pre-exposure vaccination if they live or work in Wyoming:
- Men who have sex with men and who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the last year
- Partners of men who have sex with men who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the last year
- Transgender and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with multiple or anonymous sexual partners who are male or male assigned at birth within the past year
- Sex workers (of any sex)
Vaccinations will begin the week of August 15. Eligible adults interested in vaccination appointments should contact the public health office in their area. A listing of public health offices by county can be found online. People may also call WDH at 307-777-6004 for help finding the closest local public health office.
While available monkeypox vaccine doses are being provided by the federal government through the state at no charge, a small administration fee may be charged.
Monkeypox is related to smallpox with similar but milder symptoms. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
More Wyoming-related information and updates about monkeypox can be found at this website.
Detailed facts, prevention recommendations and data about the virus are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on their website.