What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox (MPX) is a disease caused by a viral infection.
Unusually, MPX cases have been spreading around the world since May 2022. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have declared the MPX outbreak a public health emergency. As of August 17, there were 367 probable and confirmed cases in New Jersey.
MPX spreads through direct contact with an infected person, animal, or materials. This can include contact with infectious rash, scabs, lesions, body fluids, respiratory secretions, oral fluids, or material contaminated with the virus, such as clothing or bedding.
While the virus can spread via respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces, MPX is currently spreading primarily via direct skin-to-skin contact, including during sex. It is important to remember that anyone can get and spread MPX. The virus can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, which can take several weeks.
Symptoms can include flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, sore throat, lack of energy, back and muscle aches), swollen lymph nodes, and a rash or lesions. Symptoms typically appear within three weeks of exposure and last two-to-four weeks. Although rare, severe cases resulting in death can occur.
The following can prevent infection with MPX:
What to do if you think you may have MPX
A vaccine called JYNNEOS is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of smallpox and MPX in adults 18 years or older. The vaccine is usually administered as a two-dose series: two injections, four weeks apart. Due to limited supply and the public health emergency, alternate regimens have also been authorized. When properly administered before exposure, the vaccine can protect people from getting MPX. If administered soon after exposure, the vaccine may still prevent disease or reduce symptoms.
Who can get vaccinated in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, the vaccine is free and currently available to:
Expanded vaccination efforts will continue to prioritize groups that have been disproportionately affected by MPX. This may change over time.
How to get vaccinated in New Jersey
If you have been exposed to a confirmed MPX case, you can get the JYNNEOS vaccine through your local health department. See Find and Contact Your Local Health Department (from the CDC).
If you have not been confirmed as a close contact but believe you have been exposed to MPX in the past 14 days or are considered high risk for exposure to MPX, you may be eligible for the vaccine via the community partners and vaccination sites listed below. Unless walk-up events are specifically announced, vaccinations are by appointment only.
Be sure to ask the vaccination site what you need to bring with you.
New Jersey currently has a very limited vaccine supply. Follow vaccination providers on social media and/or call back for updates regarding availability. New Jersey expects additional vaccine doses from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will expand vaccine access accordingly.
For additional information and updated information, go to the New Jersey Department of Health's MonkeyPox page.
This information last reviewed: Sep 12, 2022