RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Health has expanded eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine to include anyone who has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the past three months.

As of Monday, Sept 26, there were 464 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Virginia, 21 of which required hospitalization.

“VDH is taking this step to expand eligibility for the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine to ensure as many people at high risk of contracting this disease who want to get vaccinated can do so if they choose,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Maximizing effectiveness of prevention and treatment against monkeypox now is our best chance to keep it from becoming entrenched in the United States.”

Monkeypox is a contagious rash, spread by close contact with an infected person. According to the VDH, “close contact includes touching skin lesions, bodily fluids, or clothing or linens that have been in contact with an infected person. Spread can also occur during prolonged, face-to-face contact.”

Current eligibility requirements:

  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had anonymous or multiple (more than one) sexual partners in the past two weeks
  • Sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender
  • Staff, of any sexual orientation or gender, at establishments or events where sexual activity occurs
  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, who is living with HIV/AIDS
  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, diagnosed with any sexually transmitted infection in the past three months.

The VDH said those having sex with multiple or anonymous partners are currently at the highest risk of catching or spreading the disease.

Those who are eligible can visit their local health district website to learn about how they can access the JYNNEOS vaccine.