Alabama receives first shipment of monkeypox vaccine

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2022 at 12:07 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama has received its first shipment of monkeypox vaccines. It comes one day after the state identified a fourth case of the virus.

The Alabama Department of Public Health confirms more than 1,200 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine arrived at a warehouse in Montgomery. The doses are part of the first round of allocations from the federal Strategic National Stockpile.

“We’re receiving the phase 2a and phase 2b vaccine shipments, which total just over 1,200,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield, district medical officer with ADPH. About 200 of the doses have been inventoried and are ready to be used, ADPH said Friday. The other 1,000 are in the process and should be available for use soon.

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The two-dose vaccine is used for prevention against both smallpox and monkeypox. Stubblefield said access to the vaccine in Alabama is limited.

“The vaccine is only available in Alabama for two groups. One would be laboratory workers that are handling specimens. The second group are people who have been exposed to a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox and they have not yet developed symptoms,” Stubblefield said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine being given within four days of exposure. If given between four and 14 days after the date of exposure, vaccination may reduce symptoms, but may not prevent the disease.

“Once you’re showing symptoms the vaccine doesn’t help,” Stubblefield said.

Stubblefield said in states seeing more cases, like New York, the vaccine is being offered to other populations like those who’ve had multiple sex partners within the last 14 days.

“There are certain states that are allowing certain populations to get the vaccine, but this isn’t intended for mass vaccination,” Stubblefield said.

So far, APDH has identified four cases of monkeypox virus infection in Alabama. One case has been detected in Mobile County, and one case has been detected in Jefferson County. Two more probable cases have been confirmed, but ADPH is not releasing the locations of those cases yet. Stubblefield said ADPH has more specimens pending.

“We are not surprised that there are cases in Alabama like there are in other jurisdictions in the U.S., and we are expected to have more cases in the next few weeks as this virus has a one-to-three-week incubation period,” Stubblefield said.

Stubblefield said leaders are still determining where in the state to send the initial 1,200 doses for use.

Thousands more doses of monkeypox vaccine are expected to soon begin shipping to the U.S. after officials said they had completed an inspection of the overseas plant where they were manufactured.

ADPH doctors say monkeypox does not spread easily from person to person, but close, intimate, skin-to-skin contact appears to be the primary mode of transmission in the current global outbreak. It is possible that contact with materials used by infected persons, such as clothing and linens, can be a way to contract the virus. The virus typically enters the body through broken skin, respiratory droplets, or mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth).

Symptoms in this most current outbreak have not been as typical as in previous cases of monkeypox. Instead, people will have a rash that starts out as flat spots, followed by raised spots, then vesicles that are deep-seated, have a tiny spot in the middle of the vesicle, and may be itchy or painful.

Some people who have had monkeypox have been men who have sex with men, but any person exposed to a person with monkeypox and close skin-to-skin contact can be infected.

Steps to help prevent monkeypox include the following:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, clothing or towels of a person who has monkeypox.
  • Have persons with monkeypox isolate away from others.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with ill people who have monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with animals that could have the virus (such as animals that are sick or that have been found dead).

Testing for monkeypox can be done at the ADPH BCL and some commercial laboratories. Antiviral treatment can be also considered in persons who have certain high-risk conditions, such as immunosuppression.

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