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Anyone who feels at risk can now get the monkeypox vaccine. Health officials say cases are down

a monkey pox vaccination concept
Tobias Arhelger -
a monkey pox vaccination concept

Monkeypox cases in Monroe County have begun to decrease, according to one local health official. He said this decline has a lot to do with vaccination efforts, better decision making by individuals, and increased awareness.

“As we've started to vaccinate people, we've also had a chance to talk about behaviors, which is a huge part of all of this,” said Dr. Bill Valenti, chief medical officer of Trillium Health.

Monkeypox is primarily spread through close, intimate contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Valenti said people making safer sexual choices is reducing the spread of monkeypox, but we haven’t beaten the virus just yet.

“We need to continue to vaccinate people, continue to get the word out in terms of lowering your own personal risk, and plan for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.

Valenti said it would take up to a year of monitoring the disease to declare the outbreak over.

The vaccine for monkeypox was only available to people in ‘high-risk’ groups, which includes gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men. The New York State Department of Health loosened monkeypox vaccination restrictions on Wednesday to include anyone who thinks they’re at risk.

The State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "By expanding eligibility, we are hopeful that many more New Yorkers will get immunized and prevent further transmission.” State officials also announced plans to distribute 3,840 new vials of monkeypox vaccine across counties, 100 of which will be allocated to Monroe County.

“What we're trying to do here is stop virus spread. And we may be doing that,” Valenti said.

Racquel Stephen is a health and environment reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.