- How is the VA dealing with the monkeypox epidemic?
VA continues to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clinical, infection control, and contact tracing guidance. VA has rapidly worked with field and program office stakeholders and subject matter experts to form a monkeypox coordination team that will:
- Provides clinical guidance in the field.
- Procure and distribute vaccines in a transparent and equitable manner.
- Standardize and expand internal VA monkeypox testing capacity.
- Create monitoring and analysis tools. Leverage our research expertise and resources to develop a VA monkeypox research plan and initiate proper research.
- Develop communications products for staff and veterans.
- Do all VA medical facilities have monkeypox vaccine in stock?
The VA will develop a monkeypox vaccine distribution plan to ensure equitable distribution across VA facilities based on anticipated patient needs once the VA receives its first allocation of vaccine.
- Given the current limited national vaccine supply, what plan is the VA following to manage monkeypox vaccine allocations?
VA will receive approximately 13,000 vials (up to 65,000 doses) of the JYNNEOS™ monkeypox vaccine from the Department of Health and Human Services as early as the end of August. Once the VA receives its first quota of vaccines, he will begin providing JYNNEOS™ vaccines to veterans at risk of infection.
- Are veterans and recipients of the SAVE LIVES Act eligible to receive monkeypox vaccine in VA?
Anyone who has direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox can get monkeypox. The current outbreak has so far disproportionately affected gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who should be prioritized for vaccination based on the risk of personal exposure. We follow CDC guidelines to prioritize vaccines based on individual exposure risk.
The VA will also coordinate with local health departments to receive monkeypox vaccines for veteran patients if the VA does not have those supplies available. At this time, eligibility for the SAVE LIVES Act is limited to COVID-19 vaccines.
- How can veterans know if their local VA medical facility offers monkeypox vaccine?
Veterans are encouraged to visit their local medical facility’s website for the latest updates and contact information.
- Is monkeypox testing available through the VA?
Testing for monkeypox is currently available at VA facilities through the VA Public Health Reference Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, state, or commercial laboratories.
- Are there antiviral drugs for monkeypox?
There are currently no antiviral drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of monkeypox. However, antiviral drugs developed against smallpox are available from CDC as investigational drugs. The VA has signed a fiduciary agreement with the CDC’s Human Subject Protection Committee to provide access to these agents if treatment is needed for severe monkeypox patients.
- How long does monkeypox last?
Monkeypox usually takes about two to four weeks to go through its course. If you have monkeypox, your health care provider will monitor you until the rash clears up.
- Is monkeypox fatal?
Less severe clade II strains are causing the current global pandemic (2022). So far, no one has died from this outbreak in the United States. However, monkeypox can cause other fatal problems (complications), such as pneumonia and infections of the brain (encephalitis) and eyes.
- Where can staff ask questions?
The VHA has set up a resource room where staff can submit questions, which are routed to the appropriate subject matter experts.