Information about mpox vaccines, testing, and treatment
What is (mpox) monkeypox?
Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, is a viral infection similar to smallpox but with comparatively milder symptoms and a low chance of fatality. It has rarely been seen in the United States but has now infected thousands of people across the country. It is spread through close physical contact (often skin-to-skin) between people. It can cause a painful skin rash that looks like bumps, blisters or ulcers and that is sometimes preceded by flu-like illness. Most people recover in two to four weeks, but the disease can be serious, especially for children and people with weakened immune systems or who are pregnant.
How is it transmitted? Mpox is contagious and is transmitted through close physical contact, and often skin-to-skin contact, such as with an infected person or animal or with material contaminated with the virus. This can include:
- Contact with rash, sores, or scabs from a person with mpox.
- Contact during sex through skin-to-skin and other sexual contact.
- Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels) and surfaces that have been used by someone with mpox.
- Exposure to respiratory droplets, oral fluids (saliva) through kissing and other face-to-face contact.
People with mpox may continue to spread it to others until the rash is gone, all the scabs have fallen off and the skin is healed. Brief contact without touching is not high risk.
Who is at greatest risk for contracting mpox? People are at-risk for mpox depending on what they do, not who they are. The virus is spread through close physical contact, often skin-to-skin. Individuals who engage in high-risk behaviors that include skin-to-skin contact will find themselves at greater risk for contracting the virus.
The most at-risk individuals are men or transgender people who have sex with men, but not exclusively. You can find out more here.
Who is at a greater risk for serious complications? The virus can be especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, people with advanced or uncontrolled HIV, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children under 8 years of age and people with a history of eczema.
Learn more about mpox (monkeypox)
For general information about mpox, please visit Public Health – Seattle & King County and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can also learn more watching this video in English or Español (Spanish).
Prevention of mpox (monkeypox)
Reduce your risk and prevent the spread of mpox
There are many ways to reduce your risk of getting and spreading mpox.
- Practice good hygiene.
- Avoid close contact (including sexual contact) with people who are sick or have a rash and their household/contaminated items.
- Decrease the number of sex and intimate contact partners.
- Do not go to places like bathhouses or other public sex venues.
- Avoid gatherings where people wear minimal clothing and have direct, intimate, skin-to-skin contact.
- For those who attend these events or venues, avoid coming into contact with rashes or sores you see on others and minimize skin-to-skin contact when possible.
- If you attend an event where you will not have skin-to-skin contact, please be mindful of other activities such as kissing, sharing drinks and eating utensils that might increase the risk for spreading mpox.
Vaccination for mpox
Can I get a mpox (monkeypox) vaccination?
The mpox vaccine is available but in short supply nationwide. The primary vaccine series consists of two doses given four weeks apart.
Please visit the Public Health – Seattle & King County website for more information on eligibility criteria for the mpox vaccine.
Vaccine appointments at UW Medicine for eligible patients
Patients or community members meeting one or more of these criteria are encouraged to join the UW Medicine mpox waitlist by calling 877.520.7770. Once on the waitlist, you will receive a call or text when it is your turn to schedule an appointment based on supply of vaccine.
UW Medicine is currently reaching out to patients who are at greatest risk for contracting mpox and offering a visit at a pop-up event or clinic visits at a few locations including Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center – Montlake, UW Medical Center – Northwest, and UW Medicine Primary Care clinics. Call 877.520.7770 to join our waitlist for a vaccine. Appointments will be required for all our locations. We will not accept walk-ins for vaccinations.
Visit the Public Health – Seattle & King County website for information on vaccine clinics they may be hosting throughout the area.
Testing for mpox (monkeypox)
What do I do if I suspect I have mpox?
If you suspect you have mpox, you should:
- Contact your healthcare provider immediately.
- Avoid sex or close contact with anyone until evaluated.
- Avoid gatherings.
- Cover any rashes you may have.
- Talk to your close contacts to make them aware.
Is finding care for mpox an emergency? Should I visit an emergency room if I think I have it?
Mpox is not typically an emergency and can be managed successfully in a clinic, urgent care or through telemedicine. Do not go to the emergency room if you suspect you have mpox. Emergency room wait times have been long and mpox can be treated in a clinic or urgent care setting. Contact your healthcare provider if you suspect you have mpox or have been exposed to someone who has mpox. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can call 877.520.7770, and we can help you find one. They can provide recommendations for your care, including mpox testing.
Who should get tested for mpox?
Testing is recommended for people who could have come into close contact with someone infected with mpox and/or who have a new unexplained rash, spots, sores or lesions.
Testing appointments at UW Medicine
At UW Medicine, several clinics can provide testing for mpox for patients or community members. People who are not current UW Medicine patients can be tested at one of our urgent care locations or can contact their current healthcare provider directly for more information about their testing options.
Please call 877.520.7770 to make an appointment by phone or click here to book online.
How do healthcare providers test for mpox?
The mpox test involves swabbing in or around a skin lesion. Providers send the swab to a specialized lab to conduct the test.
How long does it take to get UW Medicine mpox test results?
It may take 2 - 4 days to receive your test results. You will receive a phone call with your results if you are positive. Results will also be available via eCare. Please do not call the emergency department or the lab for test results.
What do I do while I wait for my test results?
Actions you should take while you wait for your test results include:
- Do not return to your regular activities, such as going to work, school, church or other public areas.
- Avoid using public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis if possible. If you must use public transportation, always wear a mask, avoid contact with others and make sure rash is covered.
- Stay separated from others except to get medical care. If you seek care, tell them ahead of time that you are being tested for mpox and wear a mask. Follow the instructions for isolation.
What are the instructions for isolation?
- Stay separate from others except to get medical care. Do not go to work, school, church or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis. If you must use public transportation, always wear a mask, avoid contact with others and make sure rash is covered.
- Keep yourself separate from other people as much as possible. Stay in a separate room or space and away from other people. Stay separated until rash is gone, all the scabs have fallen off and the skin is healed. Use a separate bathroom if possible. If sharing a bathroom, clean the surfaces such as counters, toilet seats and faucets after each use.
- Clean your hands often. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can also use hand sanitization gel.
- Do not share items with other people. This includes sharing dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding. After using these items, wash with soap and water.
- Clean all frequently touched surfaces regularly. This includes counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. Clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe according to the label instructions.
- Avoid contact with pets. If possible, have friends or family members care for pets until you are fully recovered. It is possible to give mpox to pets and there is no animal treatment available. Keep any bandages, clothing, towels and bedding away from pets, other animals and wildlife to prevent mpox transmission.
What do I do if my test is positive or negative?
If your test is positive:
If your test is positive, you have the virus that causes mpox and you can spread it to others. You will be referred to a UW Medicine clinic to discuss treatment and receive a phone call from Public Health. They will ask who your close contacts are and who shares your living space.
The next steps you should take include:
- Continue to separate from others except to get medical care.
- Follow the instructions for isolation.
- Schedule a visit to discuss treatment at 877.520.7770.
If you need to seek health care, call ahead before your visit, and tell them you have tested positive for mpox. Always wear a mask and keep the rash covered.
If your test is negative:
It is unlikely you have mpox. Other infections can cause the same symptoms, and you can discuss these with your provider.
The next steps you should take include:
- Stay separate from others until you are feeling better.
- If your symptoms get worse call your health care provider.
Treatment for mpox (monkeypox)
What is the treatment for mpox?
Mpox may be treated using a drug that was developed to treat smallpox. It is called Tecovirimat and is known by the brand name TPOXX.
Treatment available at UW Medicine
At UW Medicine, several clinics can provide treatment for mpox. If you suspect that you have been exposed to the virus, you should contact your healthcare provider who can work with you to determine the best course for your care, including mpox testing and potential treatment. Patients with a confirmed positive mpox test result can also call 877.520.7770 to be scheduled for a visit with a provider for treatment, which is primarily conducted via telemedicine.
If you need a general healthcare provider, visit find a provider or call 877.520.5000.
If you are interested in participating in a study available at University of Washington Positive Research (UWPR) at Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA, text or call 206.773.7129 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently asked questions about mpox (monkeypox)
Who is eligible for mpox testing, treatment and vaccinations?
In alignment with Public Health – Seattle & King County, vaccination supply is currently prioritized for:
- People who have had skin-to-skin or other close contact with someone with mpox.
- Gay or bisexual men, or any men or transgender people who have sex with men or transgender people.
- Persons of any gender or sexual orientation who engage in commercial and/or transactional sex (for example, sex in exchange for money, shelter, food, or other goods or needs).
Mpox testing is recommended for people who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- May have come into close contact with someone infected with mpox
- Have a new unexplained rash, spots, sores or lesions
Mpox treatment may be prescribed by a healthcare provider following individual assessment. If you suspect that you have been exposed to the virus, you should contact your healthcare provider who can work with you to determine the best course for your care, including potential treatment.
How do we know this vaccine will work?
The JYNNEOS vaccine has been approved for mpox and smallpox. This vaccine contains small amounts of vaccinia virus and helps to teach your body how to fight this virus. This weakened, non-replicating virus is related to the mpox and smallpox viruses.
Because of the similarities between this virus and the mpox virus, the vaccine can also help your body be able to more effectively fight mpox. Currently, the federal government has allocated a limited number of doses to the state of Washington.
Does the vaccine prevent infection or just reduce the severity of illness?
The JYNNEOS vaccine can both help to prevent mpox infection and reduce the severity of illness. If given prior to or within 4 days from the date of exposure, the vaccine can help reduce the risk of infection. If given within 14 days from the date of exposure, the vaccine can help reduce the risk of serious illness.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
Mild side effects from the JYNNEOS vaccine are common, but usually disappear without the need for further treatment. Side effects may include:
- Pain, redness, itchiness, hardness and swelling in the arm where the vaccine was injected.
- Enlargement of the lymph nodes under the armpits.
- Fatigue, soreness, headache, nausea, chills or swelling.
Can I get mpox from the vaccine?
No, you cannot get mpox from the vaccine. The vaccine does not contain the mpox virus, but rather the weakened, non-replicating vaccinia virus. Because the weakened vaccinia virus is not able to copy itself in human cells, the vaccine cannot cause vaccinia virus or any other virus, including mpox.
Who shouldn’t get the vaccine?
People who have had a severe allergy to a prior dose of the JYNNEOS vaccine should not get vaccinated. Additionally, people under the age of 18 are not eligible to be vaccinated.
While you may still be able to receive this vaccination if you have some of the following conditions, please speak with your vaccination provider to confirm if it is safe for you to receive the vaccine if you:
- Have experienced a severe allergic reaction to an ingredient in the JYNNEOS vaccine, including but not limited to gentamicin or ciprofloxacin.
- Are prone to developing keloids (severe scars)
- Are breastfeeding, pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
- Have a weakened immune system.
How many doses will I need?
The JYNNEOS vaccine is a two-dose vaccine. At this time, we are prioritizing first doses. People who received the first dose will be contacted as our supply increases. We will strongly encourage people to get that second dose.
I have heard that some clinics are not giving the full dose of the mpox vaccine. Is your clinic giving the full dose?
UW Medicine is giving a full dose of the mpox vaccine but in smaller volume. Because of the shortage of the mpox vaccine, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for a new way of administering the JYNNEOS mpox vaccine.
This new method enables doctors to give patients smaller amounts of vaccine to achieve the same protective response. This approach allows us to get more people vaccinated and may increase the total number of doses available nationally by up to five fold.
Will receiving the smaller dose still protect me from getting mpox?
Yes, the smaller dose will still protect against mpox. Giving the smaller dose changes the way we administer the vaccine. Rather than giving a larger dose under the skin into the fat tissue, the smaller dose is injected between the layers of the skin to activate immune cells to produce a strong immune response against mpox. Recent data has shown that this new smaller dose method produces the same immune response as the larger dose method.
Can I get a smallpox vaccine instead?
ACAM2000 and JYNNEOS are the two currently licensed vaccines in the United States to prevent smallpox. JYNNEOS is preferred due to fewer side effects and no risk of virus spread to other body parts or people. Because the mpox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, this smallpox vaccine can protect people from getting mpox. At this time, JYNNEOS is recommended for the general public who are at high risk. Learn more on the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/clinicians/smallpox-vaccine.html.
Is there a cost for the vaccine?
Mpox vaccines are free but there will be a charge to administer the vaccine. UW Medicine will bill your insurance on your behalf and representatives will be available to assist underinsured or the uninsured with screening for financial assistance options. Please call the UW Medicine Financial Assistance office at 206.598.4388 for more information or if you have any other questions.