South Carolina Public Health Expands Eligibility For Monkeypox Vaccine

COLUMBIA, S.C. — In an effort to protect residents at higher risk of exposure from monkeypox (MPX) and to help end its spread, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is expanding its criteria for those eligible to get vaccinated against the virus.

Beginning Tuesday, September 6th, the eligibility list will include:

  • Men who have sex with men (MSM) who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, gender fluid or gender nonbinary.
  • Any person receiving HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) treatment.

“We continue to work to control the spread of this disease and a critical element of that is getting as many people as possible vaccinated among those who are at higher risk of exposure,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “If we can stop spread in the higher risk groups, then we can stop it for everyone.”

As vaccine availability has increased, DHEC has reviewed and updated eligibility criteria to get more people protected from MPX.

Officials say a recent change in the method used to give MPX vaccinations increased the number of doses available.

Residents can call the DHEC CareLine at (855) 472-3432 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday or go online and use the DHEC Web Chat to find out if they are eligible to schedule an appointment.

The vaccine is not recommended for other members of the general public or health care workers at this time, according to a news release.

Officials say MPX, a reportable condition in South Carolina, is not easily transmitted from person to person.

It can be spread through prolonged face-to-face contact, skin-to-skin contact, including direct contact with infectious sores or scabs as well as during intimate contact such as sex, kissing, hugging, and touching fabrics and objects used by a person with MPX.

If you are concerned that you have been exposed or have a new, unusual rash, please seek medical attention from your usual health care provider, visit an urgent care center, or call your local health department.

The risk to the general population remains low at the moment.

However, the public is encouraged to stay informed about monkeypox through reliable sources, including the DHEC website and the CDC website.