How to get a monkeypox vaccine in the D.C. region

A sign outside a D.C. Health monkeypox vaccine clinic. Three D.C. Health clinics began offering limited walk-up monkeypox vaccinations, pending on vaccine availability, for eligible residents on Aug. 5. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Even before the first U.S. case of monkeypox was confirmed in Massachusetts in mid-May, D.C. public health officials were preparing for an influx of infections.

The District soon recorded more cases per capita than any state, and launched an aggressive vaccination effort to blanket the at-risk community in protection. The federal government gave the city and other hotspots priority access to vaccines. But a nationwide shortage has left much of the gay and bisexual community — most cases are among men who have sex with men — awaiting doses as infection spreads.

The federal government this week declared monkeypox a “public health emergency” to shake loose funding and bolster its response to the rapidly spreading virus, which is shared through close personal contact and has so far predominantly infected men who have sex with men. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed more than 7,100 cases had been recorded across the country as of early August, a total that has doubled about every eight days and which experts say is a significant undercount.