State Discusses Expanded Monkeypox Response

Governor Larry Hogan’s Administration and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) have updated the state’s operational response to the monkeypox outbreak to make testing, vaccination, and public health resources more widely available for high-risk populations.

As of Wednesday, August 3rd, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that Maryland has 149 lab-confirmed monkeypox cases, representing 2.4% of cases nationwide. Conduit Street previously provided a Monkeypox Primer detailing the disease’s history, transmission, and symptoms.

Under the state’s revised operational response, local health departments will provide testing for the uninsured, administer vaccinations, and conduct contact tracing. Altogether, the state can vaccinate 3,202 individuals. Governor Larry Hogan discussed the state’s response and provided guidance for individuals potentially needing treatment in a press release:

‘Since before our first monkeypox case was identified, the state has been mounting an aggressive response to this outbreak in coordination with local and regional partners,’ said Governor Hogan. ‘While vaccine supply from the federal government is severely limited at this time, anyone who believes that they may need testing or treatment should contact their healthcare provider or local health department immediately. We will keep pressing the federal government to provide more vaccines to the states and do all we can to make resources available to those at risk.’

Full details regarding the state’s testing capacity, vaccination plan, contact tracing, and public outreach and awareness follow:

Testing Capacity. Testing for monkeypox is available through commercial labs and the MDH state public health laboratory. It is not available to purchase off store shelves. Individuals who believe they were exposed to monkeypox or have an illness that could be monkeypox should contact their medical provider. People without a provider or insurance should visit to find contact information for their local health department. Healthcare providers should educate patients on home isolation while results are pending.

Vaccination Plan. To date, the federal government has allocated to MDH enough doses to vaccinate 3,202 patients with the two-dose Jynneos vaccine. Vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, and additional supply may not be available until the fall. Based on CDC guidelines, state and local health officials are prioritizing vaccination courses for:

  • Public Health Identified Close Contacts: Known close contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments.
  • Occupational Exposure: Healthcare workers who may have been exposed to a known case and Laboratory Response Network (LRN) or other laboratory staff working directly with monkeypox testing.

In addition, state and local health officials will follow CDC guidelines to make vaccines available to the following categories of individuals based on supply:

  • Self-Identified Partners of Cases: Individuals who are aware that one of their sexual partners from the past two weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • Affected Community Members: Individuals in high-risk populations who report any of the following in the past two weeks:
    • Recent group sex or sex with multiple partners.
    • Sex or employment at a venue or in association with an event, venue, or defined geographic area where monkeypox transmission has been reported.

Given the limited federal vaccine supply, MDH is focused on ensuring sustained and equitable access to vaccines across all jurisdictions based on data-driven factors. The most doses have been made available to jurisdictions that report the highest incidence of known cases and exposures. Individuals who believe they are eligible for vaccination should contact their local health department.

Contact Tracing. Extensive contact tracing is being conducted by MDH and local health departments for all presumed cases. Individuals identified as having close contact with case-patients have been offered vaccination through their local health department, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Public Outreach and Awareness. State health officials continue to conduct direct outreach to clinicians and regularly brief local health officers. A listening session for interested residents has been held as well. MDH has also made available a fact sheet and frequently asked questions with information about human monkeypox. Earlier this week, the CDC released updated guidance on isolation and prevention practices.

Read the full Governor Hogan press release.

Read Conduit Street’s Monkeypox Primer.