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No, the COVID-19 vaccine can’t give you monkeypox

Medical experts told VERIFY it’s not possible to get monkeypox from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since early May, there have been hundreds of monkeypox cases reported across the world. The first reported case in the U.S. was recorded on May 18, when a man from Massachusetts tested positive. 

Monkeypox is typically found in Africa, and rare cases in the U.S. and elsewhere are usually linked to travel there. Monkeypox primarily occurs in central and west Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests, where animals contract the virus and then transmit it to humans.

Because the virus is so rare, some online users have questioned how it’s transmitted and if there could be a connection to other viruses, like the ones that cause shingles and COVID-19. Others have asked if the COVID-19 vaccine could have actually caused the monkeypox outbreak. 

THE QUESTION

Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause monkeypox?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the COVID-19 vaccine can’t cause monkeypox. Monkeypox can’t be transmitted through any vaccine. It can only be spread through direct contact with an infected person or animal.

WHAT WE FOUND

Chickenpox and shingles are members of the herpes virus family, and monkeypox and smallpox are orthopoxviruses. The vaccine that protects against COVID-19 does not contain any live viruses and has no connection whatsoever to herpes viruses or orthopoxviruses, Ilhem Messaoudi, Ph.D, told VERIFY. 

There are rare cases when the COVID-19 vaccine could trigger a shingles flare-up in people who were previously infected with chickenpox, Tom Yadegar, MD, told VERIFY. Shingles causes a painful, burning rash, along with other symptoms, due to the reactivation of the chickenpox virus.

“It's just a fact that when you get a vaccine, your immune system can get weakened a little bit. And that can cause the shingles to present itself. For a monkeypox, it's not something that's living in any of us. It needs to be transmitted to us,” Yadegar said.

Monkeypox is only transmitted when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human, or materials that are contaminated with the virus, according to the CDC.

The monkeypox virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).

Animal-to-human contact can occur if an infected animal bites or scratches a person. Human-to-human transmission primarily occurs through close physical contact with bodily fluids, respiratory droplets, skin lesions or recently contaminated objects, the CDC and the World Health Organization say.

Related: 4 fast facts about monkeypox

Most patients that become infected with monkeypox experience fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes, according to the WHO. The rash tends to stay concentrated on the face and extremities but can spread across the body in more severe cases.

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so that you can understand what is true and false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

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