Monkeypox vaccine eligibility expands in SC on Tuesday

Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 4:50 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 5, 2022 at 5:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control is working to end the spread of monkeypox in the Palmetto State by expanding eligibility for the vaccine effective Tuesday.

There are currently 115 cases of the virus in South Carolina, a very different story compared to the nearly 8,000 combined cases in California and New York.

Current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 20,000 cases nationwide. DHEC lists just 26 cases in the Lowcountry. While that’s considered a low number of cases, DHEC says they’re working to end the spread entirely.

READ MORE: DHEC Monkeypox vaccine information

As of Tuesday, eligibility is opened up to men who have sex with men as well as those who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, gender fluid or nonbinary. Any person receiving HIV PrEP treatment is also included.

These requirements are less strict than earlier requirements that called for vaccination for those actively engaged with others in the LGBTQ+ community.

But health officials say it is important to note that anyone can get the fever and blister-inducing virus. The risk remains low in South Carolina.

The expanded eligibility comes as a change in the method used to give the FDA-approved vaccine increased the number of doses available. With the change, health officials can now give about five vaccines for every original dose by administering the vaccine less deep into the skin.

The state has received about 4,200 vials of the vaccine from the federal government and DHEC has so far given out about 1,100 doses.

With the new vaccine method, that could mean about 20,000 doses are waiting to be used.