Protect YourselfLearn More About Monkeypox

Monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the United States this year, including here in Northern Virginia. This virus can affect anyone and spreads primarily through close, skin-to-skin contact. It causes a rash or sores — known as pox — along with flu-like symptoms. 
Find the latest COVID-19 information.

Monkeypox Vaccines

If you have recently been exposed to the monkeypox virus, or are at high risk for exposure, getting vaccinated is an important way to protect yourself. People living with HIV/AIDS and people who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past three months are also encouraged to get vaccinated. 

Consult your local health department to learn whether you’re eligible to get vaccinated:

Monkeypox FAQ

You can take steps to protect yourself and those around you. Learn about monkeypox symptoms and what to do if you think you’ve been exposed. 

How does monkeypox spread?


Monkeypox spreads most commonly through close contact with an infected person, particularly direct contact with the person's rash or bodily fluids. It can also spread by touching objects or fabrics (such as clothing, towels, and bedding) used by someone infected. Additionally, monkeypox can spread through contact with an infected person's respiratory secretions. A person is contagious from the time that symptoms start to the time that all sores have healed and a new layer of skin has formed. This typically takes two to four weeks.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?


Symptoms typically start within one to two weeks of exposure to the virus, but they may begin as late as three weeks after exposure. Often, people first develop flu-like symptoms. These initial symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle and back aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and respiratory symptoms like sore throat, cough, and nasal congestion.

Within one to four days of these initial symptoms, an infected person typically also develops a rash. For some people, this rash is their only symptom. It can look like pimples, bumps, or blisters, and it may be painful or itchy. The rash goes through several stages, including scabbing, before it heals. Learn more about the symptoms.

Monkeypox lesions
Photo credit: UK Health Security Agency

Who is at risk of getting monkeypox?


Anyone can get monkeypox, regardless of age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. The most common way that monkeypox has spread so far has been through sexual activity among people who have recently had sex with multiple or anonymous partners. In addition, most cases in the 2022 outbreak to date have occurred in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Learn more about reducing your risk at social gatherings and through safe sex.

Should I get a monkeypox vaccine?


Vaccination is recommended for people who:

  • Have recently been exposed to monkeypox.
  • Are at high risk for exposure to monkeypox. This includes people who identify with any of the following groups: people of any sexual orientation and gender who had anonymous or multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks; sex workers of any sexual orientation and gender; staff of any sexual orientation and gender at establishments where sexual activity occurs.
  • Are living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Have been diagnosed with an STI in the past three months.

Learn the basics about monkeypox vaccines.

Is monkeypox related to smallpox?


Yes. Monkeypox and smallpox are in the same virus family, but monkeypox causes a much less severe illness. The same vaccine that is used to prevent smallpox is also effective for monkeypox. Read additional monkeypox vaccine information.

How can I protect myself from monkeypox?


There are several steps you can take to protect yourself, including avoiding skin-to-skin contact with someone who has been infected with monkeypox and getting vaccinated if you are eligible. The most common way that monkeypox has spread so far has been through sexual activity among people who have recently had sex with multiple or anonymous partners, so changing sexual behaviors to reduce risks — such as decreasing the number of partners and anonymous sex encounters — is also a protective measure. Frequent hand-washing is always a good public health practice for disease prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides additional guidance on lowering your risk.

Getting vaccinated is another important way to protect yourself if you have recently been exposed to monkeypox or are at high risk of being exposed.

What should I do if I suspect that I’m sick from monkeypox?


Contact your health care provider if you believe you’ve been exposed to monkeypox or if you develop an unexplained rash. If possible, call ahead of your visit to alert the health care facility that you are concerned you may have monkeypox. 

Until you’ve been evaluated, separate yourself from other people and pets and cover your lesions with gauze or a bandage. Read additional recommendations from the CDC.

How is monkeypox treated?


Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help address some of the symptoms. Topical benzocaine and lidocaine gels can also provide some relief for rashes. People with complications (such as an infection related to the rash), lesions in unusual locations, and those who are at increased risk of severe illness may be prescribed an antiviral medication such as tecovirimat (TPOXX) by a health care provider. Read additional tips and recommendations from the CDC.

Does monkeypox decrease the effectiveness of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention?


Monkeypox does not reduce the effectiveness of PrEP for preventing HIV. Those who use PrEP should continue taking it as prescribed. Learn more about HIV and monkeypox.

COVID-19 Vaccines and Resources

Stay Up to Date With Vaccines

Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccination remains the best way to prevent serious illness and to protect yourself and your loved ones. Updated boosters are now available for people 12 and older, with protection specifically for the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.


Do I need a booster shot? How many boosters do I need?


Boosters are an important part of protecting yourself from getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. They are recommended for most people. Use this tool from the CDC to determine when or if you (or your child) can get one or more COVID-19 boosters:

What is the new COVID-19 booster, and do I need one?


The updated COVID-19 boosters — also called bivalent boosters — help restore protection that has decreased since previous vaccination, as well as provide broad protection against more recent variants. These boosters target newer, highly transmissible strains of the virus that have been circulating widely: omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. You can receive the booster two months after your most recent shot. Learn more about COVID-19 boosters.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?


Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending the COVID-19 vaccine for children only after thoroughly testing its safety in thousands of kids. Children 6 months and older receive a kid-sized dose of the vaccine that’s right for their age group. Vaccinating children can prevent them from getting seriously sick if they do get COVID-19. Vaccination also gives parents greater confidence for children to participate in child care, activities, and school. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children.

What is "long COVID," and how is it diagnosed?


Some people can experience long-term effects from a COVID-19 infection, which are known as “post-COVID conditions” or “long COVID.” Post-COVID conditions include a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. Anyone who was infected can experience post-COVID conditions. People who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 and become infected might be at higher risk of developing post-COVID conditions compared with people who are vaccinated. 

There is no test to diagnose post-COVID conditions, and people may have symptoms that come from other health problems. This can make it difficult for health care providers to recognize post-COVID conditions. Health care providers consider a diagnosis of post-COVID conditions based on a health examination and the person’s health history, including whether they had a diagnosis of COVID-19 either by a positive test or by symptoms or exposure. Learn more about post-COVID conditions.

If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine?


Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all pregnant people get the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC analyzed new data from pregnant people who have been vaccinated and found no increased risk of miscarriage or harm to the baby. In fact, reports show that the mRNA vaccines might also help protect breastfeeding babies. Furthermore, pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 and, if they are infected, for their babies to be born prematurely — so getting vaccinated can protect both you and your baby.

If you are pregnant and have questions, talk with your health care provider.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for me if I’m taking medications?


Yes. Vaccines work by stimulating an immune response. Other medications work using an entirely different mechanism — so there is no interaction between the vaccine and any medications you might take. If you are taking medicines that weaken your immune system, you should talk with your health care provider.

How long after recovering from COVID-19 can I be vaccinated?


People who have COVID-19 should wait to receive any vaccine, including a COVID-19 vaccine, until after they recover and complete their isolation period. Additionally, people who recently had COVID-19 may consider delaying their next booster by up to three months from when their symptoms started or, if they had no symptoms, when they first received a positive test. Reinfection is less likely in the weeks to months after infection. However, certain factors, such as personal risk of severe disease, local COVID-19 community level, and the dominant COVID-19 variant could be reasons to get vaccinated sooner rather than later. Learn more.

Can I be treated for COVID-19?


COVID-19 treatments can help prevent severe illness in high-risk patients to help keep them out of the hospital. Learn about your medication options if you are at high risk.

For more information, check out the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination FAQ.

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