As monkeypox vaccine eligibility expands, Colorado officials report ‘encouraging trends’ | Health

Health officials in Colorado and elsewhere in the United States are reporting encouraging trends in the ongoing monkeypox outbreak as vaccination eligibility expands.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that the global epidemic “could take a turn”, with infections in some European countries and major US hotspots declining. In Colorado, early data indicates cases in the last week of August also fell, although a state official warned the data is still considered preliminary.

State health officials are “beginning to see encouraging trends in recent monkeypox data,” a spokesperson for the state Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement. email this week. More vaccines have arrived from the federal government, and increased awareness of the virus and how it spreads can also help.

As of Friday morning, 235 people tested positive for monkeypox in Colorado, according to state data. The bulk of those cases were identified in August, but preliminary data suggests infections may be declining. In mid-August, 43 cases were reported in one week. In the last week of the month, only 17 cases were reported, matching national trends.

Although anyone can catch monkeypox through close physical contact, its spread has mainly been among men who have sex with men. The state has partnered with LGBTQ organizations and health centers to target at-risk Coloradans, and limited vaccine eligibility has largely been retained for people in this group.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded eligibility this week. Anyone, regardless of sexual preference, can be vaccinated against monkeypox if, within the past two weeks, they have been exposed to a confirmed case of monkeypox; had multiple or anonymous sexual partners; or were in a place where group or casual sex took place. People are also eligible if they have been diagnosed with gonorrhea or chlamydia within the past three months, are taking medication to prevent HIV infection, or engage in transactional sex.

Blacks and Latinos made up disproportionate shares of those infected with monkeypox, both nationally and in Colorado, the data shows. To address this disparity, federal authorities have targeted at-risk people of color in an effort to remove barriers to vaccines.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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