Dallas County to expand eligibility for monkeypox vaccine as outbreak grows

Dallas County announced it's expanding vaccine eligibility as the monkeypox outbreak expands.

With more than 160 cases, the county has the largest outbreak in the state.         

One of the biggest concerns for people who believe they may be at risk is access to a vaccine. Monday, the county announced it’s expanding that access.

Monday night in a virtual town hall meeting, Dallas Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang announced the county is offering monkeypox vaccines to more people.

"That will hopefully open it up to more eligible but high risk persons," he said.

A medical professional prepares a dose of the monkeypox vaccine on July 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

The county initially could only give vaccine doses to someone who had been directly exposed to the monkeypox virus.

Now, the vaccine will be offered to any man who has sex with men who is 18 and older and sexually active over the last two weeks.

Doses have already been distributed to Parkland and several other community groups. 

"We’re hoping that with some of the additional federal doses that will be available, we will be able to even expand it further," Dr. Huang said.

Dallas County is currently reporting the highest number of positive cases in Texas at 161.

And while it’s not the only way the virus can be spread, this current global outbreak is spreading among men who have sex with men. Only three cases in Dallas County are women.

"There was a local event that occurred over the July Fourth weekend in Dallas, I think the Daddyland Festival, where there were reportedly thousands of men who have sex with men from across the state and across the country that participated in that event," Dr. Huang said. "So there was a lot of skin-to-skin contact and intimate contact."

The biggest issue in North Texas and nationwide has been access to a vaccine. The vaccine can be administered even after exposure and keep symptoms at bay. So far, demand has far outstripped supply.

The Biden administration order millions more doses, but it could be next year before they’re all ready.

Last week, Dallas County received about 5,000 vaccine doses from the state.

As the week progresses, Dr. Huang hopes they can expand availability and even administer vaccines at one location, like the Ellis Davis Field House in southern Dallas where many COVID-19 vaccines were administered.