U.S. CDC expands pre-exposure eligibility for monkeypox vaccine

By Ahmed Aboulenein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -At risk people nationwide will now be able to get Bavarian Nordic's Jynneos monkeypox vaccine before being exposed to the disease, U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday.

The CDC had previously recommended vaccination after known or presumed exposure to the virus for most groups deemed to be at high risk of contracting it, as well as for those who had visited a geographic area where known monkeypox transmission is occurring.

At risk individuals will now be eligible to receive the vaccine before exposure as the CDC shifts to a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) strategy, Wallensky said.

"By expanding eligibility and shifting to a PrEP strategy across the country, we're looking to ensure those at the highest risk for monkeypox receive the vaccine before exposure," she told reporters at a White House briefing.

Monkeypox is transmitted through close contact with an infected person, such as via sexual activity, or with the skin blisters associated with the disease.

People with jobs that put them at risk of exposure, such as healthcare workers, were already eligible for vaccination against monkeypox. Now, several other at risk groups also will qualify without suspected exposure to the virus.

They include gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men and transgender or nonbinary people who in the past six months have had multiple sexual partners or were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, the CDC said.

People who had sex at a commercial sex venue, or in areas with known transmission or at public events in the past six months are also eligible, as are the partners of anyone in a risk group or those who anticipate engaging in activities that would put them at risk, the agency said.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Mark Porter and Bill Berkrot)