Houston Health Department pauses Monkeypox vaccine appointments pending delivery of additional supply

Appointments for monkeypox vaccination through the Houston Health Department are temporarily on pause due to the limited supply.

The department will announce the availability of additional vaccination appointments after it receives additional doses of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine.

This morning, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking for more vaccines.

Houston currently has 58 confirmed cases.

Monkeypox vaccine has not been widely available nationwide. However, widespread vaccination is not recommended at this time.

The department on Friday received a shipment of 5,024 doses of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine. It retained 3,516 doses and provided 1,508 doses to Harris County Public Health.

Groups prioritized by the department for monkeypox vaccination are:

  • People confirmed to have had high- or intermediate-risk contact with someone with monkeypox, as defined by CDC.
  • People who attended an event or venue where there was a high risk of exposure to someone with confirmed monkeypox virus through skin-to-skin or sexual contact. The department works with event or venue organizers to identify people who may have been present and at risk of exposure while at the venue.

Other groups receiving vaccination priority are people who:

  • Were diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past 3 months
  • Are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); or
  • Attended or worked at a commercial sex venue or other venues where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners (e.g., saunas, bathhouses, sex clubs, sex parties) within the past 21 days.

The threat of monkeypox to Houston’s general population remains low. Monkeypox is rare and doesn’t spread easily between people without close, personal, skin-to-skin contact.

Symptoms include a rash or sores that can look like pimples or blisters, fever, headache, weakness, chills and swollen lymph nodes.

Monkeypox can spread from person to person through prolonged face-to-face contact, intimate contact and or close contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. Contact with items such as clothing or linens that previously touched the rash or body fluids is another way monkeypox spreads.

The illness usually lasts two to four weeks. It can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash fully heals and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
People who suspect that they have monkeypox symptoms such as new unexplained rash or sores need to contact their doctor to set up a screening appointment.

For more information about monkeypox, prevention tips and resources, visit houstonhealth.org or call the department’s call center at 832-393-4220.