Monkeypox in Illinois: Vaccines in limited supply ahead of school year

Illinois public health officials are trying to get the word out about monkeypox as students are returning to college dorms and their social networks.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is set to welcome 50,000 students to campus soon, and the university is working with state health officials, as it did in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are preparing in case of an outbreak.

There are more than 500 monkeypox cases in Chicago and a limited number of vaccines.


The FDA authorized giving the vaccine at the skin surface to create more vaccine doses for adults.

"What they're doing right now is making the administration in a different manner, so as opposed to doing a more deep-skin injection, they're doing it a little less deep for adults over the age of 18. That allows more of the vaccine to be utilized, so we can actually get five doses out of one vial as opposed to less than that. The hope is that will allow us to have more vaccine available for high risk populations, especially," Dr. Shika Jain from UI Health said.

Jain said lessons have been learned from COVID-19 but monkeypox is transmitted differently, through skin-to-skin contact, exchange of bodily fluids, and sharing clothes or bedding.

Public health officials say they are not especially concerned about monkeypox spreading in schools, since cases in children are rare.

College kids still need to be informed and they should avoid sharing eating and drinking utensils and other skin-to-skin contact, if possible. 

Monkeypox symptoms

According to CDC's website, it takes usually seven to 14 days from the time of infection for a person to start feeling symptoms of the disease, but the incubation period can also range from five to 21 days.

The illness, according to the CDC, begins with:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

CDC officials say within one to three days after the appearance of fever, the person infected will develop a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash will eventually dry up and fall off.

According to the World Health Organization, symptoms of monkeypox typically last two to four weeks.

Monkeypox vaccines in Chicago

Chicago currently has a limited supply of the JYNNEOS vaccine, which has been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration. It is a two-dose vaccine given under the skin 28 days apart.

Close contacts of people with monkeypox are prioritized for vaccination. 

You will also be eligible for vaccination if you meet all the following conditions: 

  • Gay, bisexual, and other (cis or trans) men who have sex with men (MSM).
  • Age 18 or older.
  • Had multiple or anonymous sex partners, sex at a social or sexual venue, or sex in exchange for money or goods within the last 14 days.

Visit the city of Chicago's monkeypox website for more information on how you can get the vaccine.