Dr. Demetre Dashkalakis

The White House held a briefing on monkeypox with DFW leaders this afternoon (Friday, Nov. 18).

Monkeypox cases have declines 93 percent since the height of the outbreak in August, according to Dr. Demetre Dashkalakis, part of the White House response team.

And while Houston continues to have more cases than Dallas and still ranks third nationally in new cases, he described the DFW area as a warm spot. So the strategy is to reduce incidence of the virus even further using a hyper-local strategy.

Fewer and fewer counties around the country are seeing any cases but he described Dallas as a “Smoldering ember.” Texas is one of six states that have had more than 500 cases of the disease. Interestingly, 38 percent of those who have contracted monkeypox are HIV-positive and 61 percent are HIV-positive or have had an STI over the last year. However, monkeypox is not sexually transmitted. It is transmitted through close contact.

The good news is more than 1 million mpox vaccines have been given and the criteria for receiving a vaccine have been relaxed. The vaccine is recommended for gay men, trans people and those who have multiple sex partners or are the partner of someone with multiple sex partners. What’s no longer required is having to reveal to the pharmacist or organization giving the vaccine what category you fit into.

So your vaccine doesn’t have to be preceded by a declaration of your gender identity or sexual orientation. Just request a monkeypox vaccine.

Also, those who had gotten a smallpox vaccine decades ago many have some residual immunity, but it’s recommended they get the new vaccine.

The vaccine is safe and can be given with a flu shot. Dashkalakis said someone with a heart condition may want to space the monkeypox vaccine and the omicron vaccine by four weeks, but speak to your doctor.

Locally, Abounding Prosperity has a full-time person who gives vaccines. According to AP Inc. CEO Kirk Myers, appointments are not necessary, but feel free to call ahead. The Dallas County Health Department on Stemmons Freeway runs a monkeypox vaccine clinic once a week.

The White House is sending reference material over the weekend. I’ll add links to the latest CDC information on Monday.

– David Taffet