Thielen Health Center fulfills Story County’s need for monkeypox vaccines


The Thielen Student Health Center is Story County’s designated monkeypox vaccine provider.

The Thielen Student Health Center has been identified as the only monkeypox virus (MPV) vaccine provider for the Story County community.

Thielen initiated a soft roll-out of MPV vaccines Sept. 1 and released an official announcement to the Iowa State community Sept. 12.

Story County did not have an MPV vaccine provider due to limited supplies and firm eligibility requirements until Thielen began administering doses.

Iowa’s eligibility requirements for the vaccine include men who have sex with men and people living with HIV. Individuals who have been exposed or believe they have been exposed are also eligible.

“Several members from the Story County community [had] to drive all the way to Polk County to get vaccinated, which isn’t the greatest when you want to talk about access to health care services,” Jessica Shannon, assistant director of nursing and patient services, said.

Thielen staff began to craft a standard operating plan for MPV vaccine distribution at the beginning of August after tracking Iowa’s monkeypox reports and noticing the vaccine’s limited accessibility within the local community.

“The [standard operating plan] was something we initiated on our own,” Shannon said. “We knew that as a community partner, it would be really important for us to be able to do our part and to help out everybody.”

Thielen staff were able to increase the depth of their planning when the Iowa Department of Public Health expanded its monkeypox vaccination strategy Aug. 29.

The previous strategy, titled post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), consisted of providing vaccines to individuals with known exposure. The new strategy, PEP++, includes providing vaccines to people at the highest risk for the virus.

Thielen frequently meets with Story County Public Health for continued COVID-19 efforts. In one of these discussions, officials revealed the MPV vaccine would soon be more readily available in different communities. Thielen staff seized this opportunity to introduce their standard operating plan and offer to be Story County’s MPV providers.

“We were trying to be as proactive as we could to say ‘hey, when you’re ready, give the [vaccines] to us,’” Shannon said. “‘We have a plan and we’ll be successful.’”

Iowa currently has several MPV vaccine providers throughout the state, with a limit of one provider per county.

Thielen has distributed approximately 100 doses, according to Shannon. They administer their vaccines one day of the week to manage the vaccine’s delivery and efficiently distribute supplies.

“We don’t want to waste any doses because if you waste a dose, that means that somebody else in another county doesn’t get it because you didn’t do your best practices,” Shannon said. “But also making sure that we’re meeting all of those that meet that eligibility criteria.”

The MPV vaccine is delivered as an injection in the arm. General side effects include injection site soreness and redness, low-grade fever and tiredness.

Students and other Story County community members can call 515-294-5801 or visit the Thielen Student Health Center website to schedule an appointment and determine eligibility.