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Vermont takes broader approach to who can get the monkeypox vaccine

A printed sign reads "Monkeypox Vaccinations Appointment Only" in front of two people wearing masks, sitting at a table with a clipboard and water bottle.
Mario Tama
/
Getty Images
In Vermont, any men who have sex with men who've had more than one sexual partner, or expect to, are eligible for a monkeypox vaccine. So far, there have only been three confirmed cases in the state.

The Vermont Department of Health is expanding eligibility criteria in the hopes of getting more people to get the monkeypox vaccine.

The agency says men who have sex with men who’ve had more than one sexual partner, or expect to, are eligible. A representative with the health department says there’s no time period for that criteria.

That’s broader than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations, as of the end of August.

Right now, the state has enough vaccines for around 1,000 people. That’s since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed shots to be administered between skin layers, rather than below the skin. That allows providers to get four doses out of each vial, rather than one, though it might be less effective.

Multiple doses have to be used right away.

“Once we puncture a vial, we have to use it within eight hours,” said Julie Arel, deputy commissioner of the Department of Health.

She said because of that limitation, they’re asking people to schedule vaccination appointments ahead of time.

Appointments are available at Planned Parenthood health centers and local health department offices, starting this week. They're also available to current patients of the Community Health Centers of Burlington and University of Vermont clinics.

So far, demand for the vaccine has been steady, but not overwhelming.

“We’re actually very hopeful now that we’re adding additional sites through our district offices that we’ll be getting more shots in arms and that we’ll start to see a real exponential increase,” Arel said.

She added that once the state uses 85% of their vaccine supply, they can order more from the federal government.

Vermont has had just three confirmed cases of the virus.

Meanwhile, there have been over 19,000 cases documented across the country.

Lexi Krupp is a corps member for Report for America, a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and regions.

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