The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has expanded the eligibility criteria for who can get vaccinated to protect themselves against monkeypox. Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ryan Westergaard

“The change today is that we are comfortable that we have a higher level of vaccine available,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ryan Westergaard. “And we’re at a point in this epidemic where we hope to be turning the corner and want to make sure as many people who are at elevated risk can get vaccinated as possible. So we’ve expanded the criteria for people who have not potentially had an exposure in the past but may in the future.”

As of Tuesday, 63 cases of monkeypox have been identified in Wisconsin. DHS reports nearly 98 percent of Wisconsin cases have occurred in men. Most cases self-reported having sexual contact with other men.

There have been several hospitalizations due to monkeypox in Wisconsin. “When hospitalization is necessary it’s usually because of pain control, or to make sure that someone gets the dose of experimental antiviral treatment Tecovirimat,” Westergaard said. “So it has happened but the majority have been self-limited, resolving on their own in the outpatient setting. But we have had several hospitalizations.”

In addition to expanding vaccine eligibility criteria, DHS is asking health care providers to reach out to communities of color which have been disproportionately affected by the virus.

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