University of Illinois prepares for monkeypox threat as students return to campus

Next week, more than 50,000 students will flood the campus of University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. And this time around, there’s another virus to be concerned about — Monkeypox.

"On May 18th, the first case of Monkeypox was reported in the U.S. Today, we have some 8,900 cases that have been reported," said US Health Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Three of those cases are in Champaign County. The university has no cases confirmed or under investigation.

But health officials on campus will test for the virus just like they did during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We collect the samples in house, but we don’t test in house," said Awais Vaid, Director of McKinley Health Center. "It’s from an out sourced lab and the turnaround time is a couple of days."


To start, the campus will have 20 doses of the Jynneos vaccine and will get more if needed.

On Tuesday, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization to start administering the Monkeypox vaccine in a different way, by stretching out the doses. It would mean getting five shots out of each vial of, instead of just one. The vaccine gets injected into skin instead of how it’s been done underneath skin and into fat.

On the South Side of Chicago at 30 E. 69th street, local organization Nefuse has teamed up with the Chicago Department of Public Health to fill 50 appointments for Monkeypox every Tuesday through September 1st.

"We know that 14% of the infections are African American or those of African descent," said Antonio King of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "We are here to make sure that population can get vaccinated on a walk-in basis."

The University of Illinois has identified spaces for students that need to isolate and can’t go home. They are also prepared to activate a hybrid or remote learning environment.