TRI-CITIES, Tenn./Va. (WJHL) Tennessee and Virginia have started rolling out the monkeypox vaccine for people who are at a high risk of contracting the disease and those who have come in close contact with it.
Wednesday’s data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows there are just over 13,500 confirmed monkeypox cases in the US.
The breakdown locally shows 99 cases in Tennessee and 189 in Virginia.
Symptoms include fever and uncomfortable skin rashes that look like pimples that can appear anywhere on the body.
Vaccine rollout underway
The Tennessee Department of Health and Virginia Department of Health both confirmed to News Channel 11 Wednesday how many vaccines they have received from the federal government.
- TDH has received 5,740 JYNNEOS vaccine doses.
- Regional and metro health departments have administered 701 vaccine doses as of Aug. 12.
- VDH has received 15,339 vials of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine as of Aug. 16.
- Local health districts have administered 4,806 vaccine doses.
Dr. David Kirshke, director of the Northeast Regional Health Office, confirmed there is plenty of vaccines available locally, but stresses it is only for people in those certain risk categories.
Huge outbreaks of monkeypox are not expected, but health officials do want to limit its spread.
“All of our local health departments in the northeast region do have the vaccine or are getting the vaccine very shortly,” said Dr. Stephen May, medical director for the Sullivan County Regional Health Department.
May says his office has about 100 vials of the monkeypox vaccine and they have already started getting shots into arms.
“We are using a targeted strategy in getting the vaccine rolled out,” said May. “We don’t want this to break out into the general population.”
The Biden Administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency in early August and has faced growing criticism for a slow rollout of the vaccines in some parts of the country.
“In our region, we have not had a problem and have had an adequate supply of vaccine,” said May.
May and Kirschke say you should contact your county health department to schedule an appointment if you believe you meet the qualifications to get the vaccine.
“TDH is working closely with regional and metro health departments to conduct case investigations, administer vaccines and provide information to those who test positive and to those who are at risk for the infection,” said Bill Christian, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Health.
Breanne Forbes Hubbard, population health manager for the Mount Rogers Health District in Southwest Virginia, echoes the sentiment that the vaccine rollout is not for all.
“Widespread vaccination against monkeypox is not recommended or necessary for most people at this time,” said Hubbard.
The health district has begun vaccinating those who meet the risk factors. It also launched an online vaccine interest form for Virginia residents to fill out if they believe they need the vaccine.
“We have had a small amount of interest, which is what we expected,” said Hubbard. “Individuals who complete the interest form and are eligible for a vaccine will be contacted by a Mount Rogers Health District epidemiologist or public health nurse.”
A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Health told News Channel 11 the JYNNEOS vaccine rollout is going smoothly.
“All 35 local health districts are able to draw down vaccine from VDH’s allocation to meet their local needs. The districts are charged with gauging vaccine interest in their local communities and devising a rollout that best meets the needs of those communities. The vaccine rollout will not look the same across the state; each district’s rollout is designed by that district’s leadership and is unique to the district,” said Logan Anderson, VDH Public Information Officer.
Who can get the vaccine?
Certain populations of people are being targeted for this initial vaccine rollout.
- People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox.
- People with multiple or anonymous recent sexual partners.
- Men who have sex with men – a predominant population for the current breakout.
- People whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses.
“It can be transmitted sexually but it is not an STD. The primary mode of transmission is close skin-to-skin contact with someone who has active lesions,” said Dr. May.
The CDC lists signs and symptoms of monkeypox as:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
You may experience all or only a few symptoms:
- Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash.
- Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms.
- Others only experience a rash.