With an additional 9,800 newly arrived doses of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine arriving in Los Angeles County this week, the LA County Department of Public Health announced expanded vaccine eligibility during a Tuesday morning media briefing.

The expanded eligibility — effective immediately — opens up vaccine doses for gay or bisexual men and transgender persons who: “were diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past 12 months; or are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); or attended or worked at a commercial sex venue or other venue where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners … within the past 21 days.”

Anyone in LA County who fits the above criteria is encouraged to visit ph.lacounty.gov/monkeypoxsignup and fill out the form. 

Previously, LA County Public Health was distributing the vaccines based on eligibility standards, primarily to known close contacts of those who have already tested positive or those who had been diagnosed with gonorrhea or syphilis within the past six months.

Following a brief update from public health officials, members of the media were invited to ask questions.

KPCC Senior Health Reporter Jackie Fortiér asked about the rationale for excluding most women from vaccine eligibility. 

Andrea Kim, the director of Vaccine-Preventable Disease Control, Acute Communicable Disease Control Program for the county, said that was because the current outbreak is not spreading in that demographic.

“At this time this, you know, we’re focused on … gay and bisexual men and transgender persons,” Kim said. “You know, we’re going to be following the evidence, you know; we really want to be guided by our data. And the evidence hasn’t been shown that this has been — this is among women at this point. So, we’re really focusing on, you know, where our known risk factors are and that is gay or bisexual men and transgender persons.”

Another health expert, Dawn Terashita, MD, associate director of the County’s Acute Communicable Disease Control Program, added that women who have been close contacts with known cases would be eligible for vaccines.

Those who have had close contact with an infected person and the JYNNEOS vaccine within four days may avoid contracting the virus; if the vaccine is administered between four and 14 days after exposure, it is still expected to help reduce the disease’s severity.

The panel on Tuesday confirmed that eligibility for contacts lasts for 14 days following exposure, and those who become aware of contacts late should still visit the Public Health website to register.

As of Tuesday morning, LA County Department of Public Health reported 120 known cases of monkeypox countywide, up from 85 cases reported as of last Thursday.

“The risk of monkeypox in the general population remains very low based on the information available,” official messaging from the public health department stated.

emily@smdp.com