Harris County Expands Vaccine Eligibility as Monkeypox Cases Continue to Spread

August 16, 2022

Judge Lina Hidalgo today announced Houston/Harris County will expand eligibility criteria to include HIV+ individuals and those diagnosed with Chlamydia. Previously, vaccines were available to individuals in direct contact with someone who had contracted Monkeypox, attended an event where there was a high risk of exposure, were currently on PrEP medication, or diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past three months.

“The most powerful tool is prevention, and we accomplish that through vaccination and public awareness. Our vaccination strategy, response plan, and continued action is our path to staying ahead of the virus and to chart a better path forward,” said Judge Hidalgo.

Today’s announcement comes as the first presumed case of pediatric Monkeypox in Harris County and Texas was diagnosed. Public Health is working with the family on contact tracing to further understand how the child contracted the virus. The child is mostly asymptomatic, with the exception of a mild rash, and is expected to fully recover. The child did not attend a daycare or school setting.

“There is cause for concern, but not alarm,” continued Judge Hidalgo. “We are not currently seeing the virus spread through schools or childcare centers. However, this does underscore the urgency of surrounding the virus through vaccines, and that is why I continue to plead with the federal government for more vaccines to our region.”

There have been 7 pediatric cases in the nation. Last week, the Center for Disease Control announced children 6 months or older are now able to receive the vaccine.

The federal government advised Harris County to multiply the number of residents by five-fold to administer the vaccine in a new format by extracting 5 doses from each vaccine vial, per CDC recommendations. As Harris County moved to expand vaccination capability, county officials learned Monday night that the federal government will be distributing only one-fifth the number of doses previously allocated to Harris County, depleting the county’s supply before efforts to ramp-up the vaccine distribution strategy could be deployed.

The unforeseen decrease of vaccines made available by the federal government ultimately pushes Harris County back into a severe vaccine shortage. With additional doses, eligibility criteria can be expand to include more at-risk populations.

To check if you qualify for the vaccine, contact your medical provider or call Harris County Public Health at 832-927-0707. More information is also available at