How to get a monkeypox vaccine in L.A. County, and how to know if you're eligible

·5 min read
Healthcare workers with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the City's vaccination sites, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in New York. The World Health Organization recently declared that the expanding monkeypox outbreak is a global emergency. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Healthcare workers help people register for the monkeypox vaccination in New York. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

It is possible to get a monkeypox vaccination in L.A. County if you're eligible. It just might require a little patience.

All of the available vaccine doses in Los Angeles County are being given to participating clinics through the Department of Public Health. The department allows a limited amount at a time to ensure those clinics give out all the vaccines before getting more of them.

"They're trying to intentionally dole it out in small batches so we make sure vaccines are being delivered into arms as quickly as possible," said Ward Carpenter, director of health services for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which is one of the participating partners.

How to get a monkeypox vaccination

To get the monkeypox vaccination in Los Angeles County, you need to sign up through the public health department. When vaccination appointments are available, the department lets you pre-register for an appointment at a clinic. When you pre-register, you'll need to enter your name, phone number and email, and answer some questions. The confirmation notice says it will place you on a list, and you'll be notified when it's your turn to get vaccinated.

When there are no appointments available, you won't be able to sign up for pre-registration. But availability changes frequently, Carpenter said, and his advice is to "just stay on that link, just check it every day, once a day, twice a day."

"As soon as [an appointment] comes up, you'll be able to sign up and get it," he said. "It'll be closed one moment, but as soon as they open up more appointments, they'll open it up again. The way that they're doing it is keeping it really responsive to supply and capacity."

The department also has a newsletter that will send you an email once more appointments open up. The place to enter your email to sign up for the monkeypox vaccination availability alert newsletter is on the yellow banner at the top of this page. Enter your email address in the box and click "submit."

What do I do if I think I have monkeypox or have been exposed to it?

If you think you have been exposed to or have monkeypox, do not go to a vaccination site. Contact your healthcare provider, call 2-1-1, or visit a public sexual health clinic.

Who's eligible for a monkeypox vaccination?

Anyone of any gender identity or sexual orientation is eligible to receive a monkeypox vaccine in L.A. County if they have had sex in exchange for money, food, shelter, or other goods or needs in the last 14 days.

Otherwise, you must be a gay or bisexual man or transgender person and meet at least one of the following criteria to be eligible for the vaccination in L.A. County:

  • You have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days.

  • You've had skin-to-skin or intimate contact (like kissing or hugging) with people at large venues or events in the last 14 days.

  • You are on HIV PrEP medication.

  • You’ve had anonymous sex or sex with multiple people within the last 21 days at a commercial sex venue or other venue. (Carpenter said that would include things like a sex party or a club or sauna or spa where people tend to engage in sexual activities, or an establishment where people pay money to come in and have sex.)

  • You’ve had high or intermediate exposure to monkeypox (the CDC has a list of what qualifies as exposure at those levels).

  • You’ve attended an event or venue where there was a high risk of exposure via skin-to-skin or sexual contact with people with monkeypox.

  • You are experiencing homelessness and engaging in high-risk behaviors.

  • You’ve had gonorrhea or early syphilis in the last 12 months.

  • You are in jail and have been identified as high-risk by clinical staff.

  • You are severely immunocompromised — for instance, you are undergoing chemotherapy, are on high-dose steroids or other immunosuppressants or have advanced or uncontrolled HIV.

The monkeypox vaccine is now available to minors. Those who are 16 or 17 years old will need to either be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or bring a consent form signed by one. Children 15 and younger must be accompanied by a parent, a legal guardian, or by a responsible adult who has a consent form signed by the child's parent or guardian.

Eligibility criteria may change. The public health department's website maintains a list of the latest eligibility information.

What are the early symptoms of monkeypox? How dangerous is it?

Symptoms of monkeypox typically begin within five to 21 days of exposure. Early indicators include flu-like symptoms like fever, malaise, chills, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash and the telltale lesions. The department of public health has photos of what the blisters look like and more information on monkeypox symptoms.

Monkeypox is rarely fatal, and there have been no deaths in the United States from monkeypox during this outbreak. Globally, there have been 29,833 cases of monkeypox and 11 deaths from it since May 2022, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Updates:
6:17 p.m. Aug. 22, 2022: This story has been updated with expanded eligibility information from the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.