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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Regional Health District receives 320 doses of monkeypox vaccine

By Carly Dykes The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Regional Health District has received 320 doses of a vaccine that combats monkeypox.

Nationwide, monkeypox has infected over 4,600 people. As of Tuesday, 101 people in Washington have tested positive for the virus; 90 of these cases are located in King County, where the Seattle Times on Thursday reported cases are doubling every week. There have been no confirmed cases in Spokane County, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

The health district is prioritizing distribution of the Jynneos vaccine to those deemed at high risk, according to a news release due to a shortage in vaccines.

Those at high risk include people who are immunocompromised, and those who have had intimate, skin-to-skin contact with others within the previous 14 days in areas where monkeypox is spreading or among a social network experiencing monkeypox activity.

Most of the monkeypox patients in the United States have been men who have sex with men, but monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the monkeypox virus is transmitted by direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs or bodily fluids from a person with monkeypox. It can be contracted by touching objects, fabrics such as clothing, bedding or towels, and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox, and by contact with respiratory secretions.

If a person feels as if they are high risk, they are encouraged to call health district at (509) 324-1500 to be evaluated for eligibility. If eligible, the high-risk individual will be given an initial vaccine at the health district’s facility at 1101 W. College Ave. in downtown Spokane.

Individuals who have been exposed to monkeypox are eligible for post-exposure prophylaxis, a measure taken to prevent future monkeypox infection and spread of the disease.

Washington is expected to receive a larger supply of vaccines in late August. The Jynneos vaccine is a two-dose series given 28 days apart. Given the shortage of the vaccine, the health district is prioritizing first doses . Individuals may not receive a second dose within the 28-day window. This is not projected to affect immune responses to the second dose.

“We will use less than half of the current vaccine on hand for this approach, while keeping most doses on hand for close contacts in eventual outbreaks locally and in neighboring health jurisdictions,” Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez said in a statement.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. In some cases, those infected may only experience a minor rash in the mouth, genital and anal areas, face, and other parts of the body.

Individuals who are infected with monkeypox typically recover in two to four weeks, according to the CDC. However, in rare cases, monkeypox may cause sores, lead to pneumonia and even be fatal. Monkeypox is contagious from onset of symptoms until the rash has fully healed and a new layer of skin has formed.

The health district encourages people to be aware and cautious of monkeypox. Those at risk are encouraged to seek medical care and get tested promptly if symptoms occur. Monkeypox diagnoses are made by using a PCR test, similar to the testing used to diagnose COVID-19, to detect the virus’s DNA.

To prevent the spread of monkeypox, practice hand washing, minimize skin-to-skin contact with people who has been exposed to the virus or those with a new rash or sores, avoid contact with materials that have been in direct contact with somebody with monkeypox and reach out to a health care provider if you develop any symptoms.