Monkeypox health and safety tips to start the 2022–23 academic year

The World Health Organization recently declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the ongoing spread of the virus in the United States a public health emergency. 

Monkeypox has arrived in Tennessee and in Davidson County, and Vanderbilt University has been preparing and planning for managing any impact on our campus community. 

What is monkeypox, and what are the symptoms? 

  • Monkeypox is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Symptoms of monkeypox usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus and typically last two to four weeks.  
  • Symptoms can include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and backache, headache and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. The rash may go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. The rash may be painful or itchy. 

More details can be found here. 

How does monkeypox spread? 

Monkeypox can be person to person through close, personal contact (often skin-to-skin contact), including: 

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs or body fluids from a person with monkeypox. 
  • Touching objects, particularly porous surfaces and fabrics (clothing, bedding or towels) or surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox. 
  • Contact with respiratory secretions. 
  • A pregnant person can spread the virus to a fetus through the placenta. 

Monkeypox is not believed to be spread through casual contact, passing by someone or having a conversation with someone who has monkeypox. 

More information can be found here. 

What if I have symptoms and need to be tested? 

Students should visit the Student Health Center for testing. Faculty, staff or postdocs can visit their primary care doctor, a VUMC clinic or Occupational Health for testing. 

An infection caused by monkeypox should be confirmed with a test. Results can take two to five days to be reported. 

More information can be found here. 

Do I need to quarantine if I am tested for monkeypox? 

Individuals will need to quarantine from others until they get the results.  

Individuals who live off campus should quarantine in their residences. 

Campus residents should contact Housing and Residential Experience at for more information on quarantine housing if they have symptoms and are awaiting test results. 

What happens if I am diagnosed with monkeypox? 

If you are diagnosed with monkeypox, you will need to isolate. Individuals who live off campus will need to isolate in their residences. Campus residents diagnosed with monkeypox should email Housing and Experience at Campus residents will be moved to isolation housing and will be supported by Housing and Residential Experience, the Student Health Center and other offices in the Student Care Network. 

If you are symptomatic and isolating, please see this list of prevention practices. 

More information can be found here. 

Does Vanderbilt conduct contact tracing for monkeypox? 

The Metro Public Health Department is required to perform contact tracing at this time because the department has the ability to administer vaccines if eligibility requirements are met. Should an individual’s test be confirmed as positive for monkeypox, the Metro Public Health Department will speak with the individual to conduct contact tracing. They will reach out to any identified close contacts with additional information. 

More information can be found here. 

Will Vanderbilt University provide the monkeypox vaccine to students, staff, faculty or postdocs? 

At this time, only the Tennessee Department of Health and Metro Public Health Department are able to administer the monkeypox vaccine. The vaccine is not currently available to be administered by individual clinics or universities. Vaccine supplies are currently limited and not available to the general public. Vaccines are currently prioritized by health departments for those who have been exposed. Should the health department deem a vaccine necessary, they will coordinate with the individual. If students need assistance getting to the vaccine location, they should reach out to To learn more about eligibility requirements, please visit the Tennessee Department of Health website.