OLYMPIA, Wash. — A limited amount of the monkeypox vaccine is being distributed in Washington state to help stop the virus' spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday.
Washington state was allotted 796 doses of the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine, equating to 398 courses. Of those, 272 courses have been distributed to areas with known cases and close contacts, according to the CDC.
There are 15 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox in Washington state - 14 of those are King County residents; the other is a person who was exposed in another state but tested positive in Washington.
As of July 6, there were almost 7,000 cases globally and 560 cases in the United States, according to the CDC.
Early cases of monkeypox were identified in people who traveled outside of Washington state. More recent cases, however, were identified in people who haven't recently traveled outside the state. This means they were likely exposed locally.
“The risk to the public is low at this time. Transmission generally requires close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has symptoms of the disease,” said state Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases Scott Lindquist. “For people who have had recent contact with someone who tested positive for monkeypox, the vaccine can reduce the chance of developing a monkeypox infection.”
Phase 1 of the vaccine distribution calls for the government to allocate 56,000 doses, prioritizing states and jurisdictions with high case rates.
In late July or early August, Phase 2 will make 240,000 additional doses available across the country.
On June 29, the U.S. announced "aggressive steps to battle the latest monkeypox outbreak, expanding the group of people recommended to get vaccinated.
The administration said it was expanding the pool of people who are advised to get vaccinated to include those who may realize on their own that they could have been infected. That includes men who have recently had sex with men at parties or in other gatherings in cities where monkeypox cases have been identified.
There have been no U.S. deaths and officials say the risk to the American public is low. But they are taking steps to assure people that medical measures are in place to deal with the growing problem.
What is monkeypox? And how does it spread?
Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic.
The illness was first identified by scientists in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in research monkeys — thus the name monkeypox. The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo.
Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but causes milder symptoms.
Most patients experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
The incubation period is from about five days to three weeks. Most people recover within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized.
Monkeypox can be fatal for up to one in 10 people and is thought to be more severe in children.
People exposed to the virus are often given one of several smallpox vaccines, which have been shown to be effective against monkeypox. Anti-viral drugs are also being developed.