According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois has the third highest number of reported cases of monkeypox in the US, trailing only New York and California.
And while health officials in Chicago and across the state are working to distribute a monkeypox vaccine, it isn’t as widely available just yet, and it isn’t recommended for the general public.
Here’s a breakdown of where it is available, and what to know about getting it.
How to Get the Monkeypox Vaccine in Chicago and Illinois
The Illinois Department of Health on June 30 said that “as part of a national strategy to address the ongoing outbreak of monkeypox virus, the State of Illinois is receiving an immediate allocation of vaccines from the national stockpile.” The announcement noted that the state health department would receive 1,291 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine, and that the Chicago Department of Public Health would be receiving a separate initial allocation of 3,200 doses.
“Federal authorities said the number of vaccine doses available is expected to increase substantially during the coming months,” the announcement continued.
The IDPH says vaccine doses distributed to the state will be available in counties that have experienced at least one case of the virus, which includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and now McHenry, and that it will be designated for individuals at higher risk of exposure, “which includes those who have had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox virus or presumed exposure to the virus,” the state says.
According to the Chicago Public Health Department, the vaccine has been distributed to health care provides “who directly reach individuals at higher risk of intimate exposure.” According to the CDC, anyone can get infected with monkeypox, and some, but not all, cases have been identified among gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
“If you think you might qualify to receive vaccine, first contact your healthcare provider,” the Chicago Public Health Department says. “Second, please be patient. There is not currently enough vaccine for all those who qualify to receive a dose, but we will expand where vaccine is available as we receive additional doses.”
The virus, which is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox, causes numerous symptoms, including:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Rash resembling blisters on the face, inside the mouth and on the hands, feet, chest or other parts of the body
According to the latest figures from the CDC, nearly 2,000 cases of the virus have been reported so far in the United States. More than 13,000 cases of the virus have been reported in countries that typically do not report monkeypox cases, according to CDC data.
Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services say that more than 132,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine have been distributed to state health departments. From there, those departments can determine who to administer the treatment, with Illinois opting to send it to counties where cases of the virus have been reported.
The state of Illinois has currently been allocated 1,317 doses of the vaccine, according to HHS data.
An additional 2.5 million doses of the vaccine have been ordered by HHS during the outbreak, according to officials.