With Pride Month swiftly approaching, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health “strongly recommends” people at higher risk of contracting mpox to get two doses of the readily available vaccine.
Mpox, previously known as Monkeypox, became a global health emergency last year following a rash of outbreaks across the globe.
Mpox is spread through skin-to-skin contact and can cause myriad symptoms, including painful rash or lesions, fever, muscle aches and respiratory issues.
The viral infection has an incubation period as long as 17 days, and many carriers of the virus might be contagious while remaining symptom-free, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While not typically fatal, at least one person is believed to have died with mpox in L.A. County last year, and health officials recommend as many as four weeks of isolation to ensure an infection has cleared.
Mpox can be spread to anyone, health officials said, but during last year’s outbreak, gay, bisexual and men who have sex with other men made up the bulk of cases in America.
The outbreak caused concern among the local LGBTQ+ community. Vaccine clinics opened throughout L.A. County, but the vaccines, which are recommended to be administered in two doses, were in short supply during the height of the outbreak. Those vaccine shortages have since receded, health officials say.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared that mpox was no longer a global emergency.
Since March 1, there have been only three confirmed new mpox cases in L.A. County.
But as June approaches, which is designated in the U.S. and California as LGBT Pride Month, the L.A. County Department of Public Health is encouraging those who might be at increased risk of infection to get vaccinated as soon as possible for “maximum protection” against severe illness.
The following groups are considered at higher risk for mpox, according to the Public Health Department:
- Any man or transgender person who has sex with men or transgender persons
- Persons of any gender or sexual orientation who engage in commercial and/or transactional sex or have sex in association with a large public event
- Persons living with HIV, especially persons with uncontrolled or advanced HIV disease
- Sexual partners of people in any of the above groups
Those in the higher-risk groups are recommended to get two doses of the vaccine, which Public Health says offers 70 to 85% preventative protection and reduces the risk of serious cases. Second doses can be given no matter how long it’s been since the first dose was administered, Public Health officials said.
To find a vaccination site, you can visit Myturn.ca.gov or visit the L.A. County Public Health Department mpox resource page.
Public Health also has an information call center open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., for general information regarding vaccines, testing and treatment. The call center can be reached at 833-540-0473.