Montclair, NJ – Montclair Township’s Health Department is assisting Montclair, Cedar Grove and Verona residents in getting the monkeypox vaccine. The vaccine is being offered through the New Jersey Department of Health (NJ DOH) for people who may have been exposed to the disease, but is available on an extremely limited basis due to a limited supply.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox. The monkeypox virus is spreading mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox.

If you have any symptoms of monkeypox or had close contact to a positive case, talk to your healthcare provider, or call the Montclair Township Health Department at 973-509-4970 and speak to one of the Township’s public health nurses. even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox.

A Montclair public health nurse will take the resident through an interview process to determine if the resident is qualified, based on confirmation of being in proximity to the positive case and responses to questions on a NJ DOH investigation form.

Should they be approved, a representative from Montclair’s Health Department would pick up the dose from a hub in Kearney and administer the vaccine to the patient (the Kearney site is one of five hubs in the state where the limited quantity of vaccine is being stored).

“Unfortunately, while we await stronger state and federal response, this is what we’re working with right now and aren’t offering the vaccine to at-risk populations generally,” says Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis.

According to Yacobellis, the council was notified by Montclair Health Officer Keith Costello that as of this weekend there have been no positive cases of Monkeypox in Montclair.

“As a gay man, seeing this disease impact my community disproportionately, I’m concerned that the government response has been inadequate and state and federal officials need to step it up,” says Yacobellis. “Our government needs a radical shift in focus to prioritize protection of life in the context of public health. We don’t yet know how Monkeybox will play out globally. But COVID-19 should have taught us that having the infrastructure and capacity to vaccinate the American people at scale is a new necessity.”

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people.

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Prior to the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in people in several central and western African countries. Previously, almost all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals. These cases occurred on multiple continents.