Where to get a monkeypox vaccine in Anchorage this week

·4 min read

Aug. 19—Two pop-up monkeypox vaccine clinics are being held this week in Anchorage while other sites and providers are offering the shots on an ongoing basis.

A pop-up clinic is being held Thursday, Aug. 18, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Identity Health Clinic, located at 307 E. Northern Lights Boulevard, Suite 101.

Another event is being held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at the office of Dr. Ben Westley, an Anchorage infectious disease doctor, at 4120 Laurel St, Suite 204.

The shots at each of these sites are free, and walk-ins are welcome.

A state-run vaccine clinic in Anchorage's Muldoon neighborhood also has monkeypox vaccine available on an ongoing basis, according to site manager Jyll Green. That site is located at 1130 N. Muldoon Road, Suite 110, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Walk-ins and appointments are available.

Green said Thursday that the clinic has recently received about 100 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, and so far, uptake has been relatively low, likely because many people don't know where to go.

"It's been a challenge to disseminate the information and the availability," Green said, and "not a lot of providers are offering it right now."

The Anchorage Health Department also has some doses of the vaccine available. Residents are encouraged to reach out to their health providers to see about availability, or they can reach out to the municipal health department for an appointment and eligibility screening by calling 907-343-6718 or emailing monkeypox@anchorageak.gov.

Who is eligible for a shot?

The state recently expanded its eligibility criteria for who in the state can access the monkeypox vaccine.

Men and transgender people who have sex with men and also have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the past six months are now eligible for a dose.

Also eligible: anyone with a known exposure to someone with the virus. The vaccine is most effective if given in the first four days after an exposure, but can be administered up to two weeks after an exposure.

Immunocompromised Alaskans who also fit the eligibility criteria in particular should consider getting vaccinated, due to higher risk of severe illness if they were to contract the disease, according to Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska's state epidemiologist.

Shots are available in the state on a first-come, first-served basis, he said.

Just two cases of monkeypox have been identified in Alaska so far, but health officials say more in-state cases are likely as a global outbreak that has spread to thousands of people in dozens of countries in just a few weeks continues to grow.

According to a CDC report released this week, the vast majority of monkeypox cases in the U.S. since May — 99% — have involved men, and 84% of patients have reported male-to-male sexual contact.

Within this community, the risk of transmission is highest among people who have had multiple sexual partners or are having anonymous sex frequently.

Identity Health Clinic's clinical director, Dr. Tracey Wiese, addressed some misconceptions about the virus during a recent public presentation she hosted via Zoom.

"It should be really clear that anybody can get monkeypox," Wiese said during that call. "You do not have to identify as LGTBQ to be infected with this virus; any human can contract this virus."

Vaccine outreach is being targeted to men who have sex with men "because there does seem to be a disproportionate prevalence in that community," she said.

Monkeypox is a disease caused by an infection with a pox virus that belongs to the same family of viruses that cause smallpox.

The illness typically begins with flu-like symptoms including a fever, headaches, muscle and backaches, chills and general exhaustion within one to two weeks of exposure.

Within one to three days, the patient will develop a rash that often begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body, but not always. The illness typically lasts two to four weeks.

Monkeypox

While the current strain has a very high survival rate of about 99%, the World Health Organization has reported several fatalities from the virus.

More severe cases of monkeypox infection can involve "extremely painful" lesions that can spread to multiple parts of the body.

While monkeypox does not spread easily between people, transmission can occur when a person has skin-to-skin contact with body fluids or monkeypox sores; through contact with items that have been contaminated, like bedding and clothing; or through prolonged face-to-face contact.