- How is the VA handling the monkeypox outbreak?
VA continues to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clinical guidelines, infection control, and contact investigation. VA has established a Monkeypox Coordination Team that is working rapidly with field stakeholders and program office and subject matter experts to:
- Provide field clinical guidance.
- Procure and distribute vaccines transparently and equitably.
- Standardize and expand internal VA monkeypox testing capacity.
- Create monitoring and analytics tools; leverage our research expertise and resources to develop a research agenda for VA and initiate appropriate studies.
- Develop communication products for our staff and veterans.
- Will all VA medical facilities stock monkeypox vaccines?
VA will develop a distribution plan for monkeypox vaccine to ensure even distribution across VA facilities based on anticipated patient needs after VA receives the initial distribution of vaccine.
- With the current limited national supply of vaccine, what plan is VA following to administer the monkeypox vaccine distribution?
VA will receive approximately 13,000 vials (up to 65,000 doses) of JYNNEOS™ monkeypox vaccine from the Department of Health and Human Services beginning in late August. Once the VA receives its initial vaccine allocation, it will begin offering the JYNNEOS™ vaccine to veterans at risk of infection.
- Are Veterans and SAVE LIVES recipients eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine at the VA?
Anyone who comes into direct skin-to-skin contact with another infected person can catch monkeypox. The current outbreak has, for now, disproportionately affected gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, who should be prioritized for the vaccine based on their personal risk of exposure. The VA is following CDC guidelines and prioritizing individuals for the vaccine based on their personal risk of exposure.
VA will also coordinate with local health departments to obtain monkeypox vaccine if VA does not have supplies available for Veteran patients. At this time, eligibility for the SAVE LIVES Act is limited to the COVID-19 vaccine.
- How will veterans know if their VA medical facility is offering the monkeypox vaccine?
Veterans are encouraged to visit their local medical facility’s website for the latest updates and contact information.
- Is testing available for Monkeypox through the VA?
Monkeypox testing is currently available to VA facilities through the VA Public Health Reference Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, through states, or through commercial laboratories.
- Are there antivirals against monkeypox?
There is currently no Food and Drug Administration-approved antiviral for the treatment of monkeypox; however, antivirals developed against smallpox are available from the CDC as an investigational drug. VA has signed a support agreement with CDC’s human subjects protection committee to access these drugs when indicated to treat patients with severe monkeypox.
- How long does monkeypox last?
Monkeypox usually takes about two weeks to four weeks to run its course. If you are exposed to monkeypox, your provider will monitor you until the rash resolves.
- Is monkeypox fatal?
The less severe Clade II type is causing the current global outbreak (2022). To date, no one has died from this outbreak in the United States. But monkeypox can lead to other problems (complications) such as pneumonia and infections in your brain (encephalitis) or eyes, which can be fatal.
- Where can staff go with questions?
VHA has created one Resource Room where staff can submit questions that will be addressed to relevant subject matter experts.