Houston Health Department receives monkeypox vaccine shipment for at-risk people

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Saturday, July 23, 2022
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The U.S. confirmed its first case of monkeypox. Here's what you need to know about the rare virus and its symptoms.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Health Department announced on Friday they received a shipment of 5,024 doses of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine.

According to HHD, the department will keep 3,516 doses and provide 1,508 doses to Harris County Public Health.

The video featured above is from a previous report.

Officials said people who are contacts or presumed contacts at high risk for exposure would be prioritized for vaccinations.

Due to the limited nationwide supply, the monkeypox vaccine has not been widely available, and health officials said they currently do not recommend widespread vaccinations.

The health department said they will be able to serve approximately 1,758 people since monkeypox vaccination is a two-dose series, taken four weeks apart.

"While the threat of monkeypox to Houston's general population remains low, we welcome this vaccine shipment and look forward to receiving more as long as there is a need in the community," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "I have asked our health department to remain vigilant in its work to educate and advocate on behalf of individuals considered most at-risk."

SEE RELATED: What is monkeypox? What to know about virus, symptoms, spread as US confirms 1st 2022 case

The department announced Houston's first confirmed case of monkeypox on June 18. The case count gradually rose over the following weeks and currently totals 36, none of which have led to hospitalizations, officials said.

HHD said they have been investigating cases by contact tracing to ensure people are vaccinated and to reduce the spread of the virus.

According to the health department, outreach and education initiatives were taken, including the sponsoring of a monkeypox community town hall for community-based organizations, non-profit agencies, and health advocates, distribution of educational materials at various community events, and education sessions, as well as support to area Federally Qualified Health Centers.

During the Fourth of July weekend, the health department organized a targeted mobile vaccination clinic to vaccinate suspected contacts of two confirmed cases, and administered 125 doses.

Health officials say monkeypox is rare and does not spread easily between people without close, personal, skin-to-skin contact.

SEE ALSO: UN health agency declares monkeypox a global emergency, disease now found in 70 countries

Symptoms include a rash or sores, that look like pimples or blisters, fever, headache, weakness, chills, and swollen lymph nodes.

Monkeypox can spread through prolonged face-to-face contact, intimate contact, and or close contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. Contact with items such as clothing or linens that previously touched the rash or body fluids is another way the disease can spread, officials said.

The illness usually lasts two to four weeks and can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash fully heals, and a fresh layer of skin has formed, HHD said.

People who suspect they have monkeypox symptoms, such as new unexplained rash or sores, can contact their doctor to set up a screening appointment.

The department said they plan to distribute the vaccine to partnering providers over the next few days and said it will provide vaccinations to referred clients who meet the criteria in the meantime.