SAVANNAH, Ga. – As the number of monkeypox cases continues to grow, more people are becoming concerned about the viral disease and its effects.
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows over 3,000 cases have been reported in the U.S. with more than 300 cases in Florida. The World Health Organization also recently declared the expanding monkeypox outbreak a global emergency.
In New York City, officials declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Saturday.
Doctors said the availability of these vaccines is a good thing, and they recommended the public learn all they can about this infection.
Chatham County, which includes the Savannah area of Georgia, received its first shipment of Jynneos, a vaccine for the prevention of the monkeypox disease, last week.
Vaccinations will begin being distributed on Monday to qualified individuals.
Appointments are required — walk-ins will not be accepted. Schedule your appointment here.
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The vaccinations will be administered at the Chatham County Health Department on 1395 Eisenhower Dr., Savannah, GA, 31406. Other locations are expected to open as the vaccine supply increases.
To be eligible for the vaccine you must meet the following qualifications:
- 18 years old or older
- a gay male, bisexual male or a male that has sex with other males
- have had a sexual partner in the past 14 days who has received a monkeypox diagnosis or had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in an area with known monkeypox
- does not have signs or symptoms of monkeypox (fever, headache, muscle ache, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion or rash/blisters on the face, inside of the mouth or on other body parts)
Jynneos is given in a two-dose series, administered four weeks apart.
News4JAX spoke to the University of Arizona’s Clinical Assistant Professor, Dr. Vandana Vhide about the vaccine’s accessibility.
“We’re trying to have more production of the vaccine,” Vhide said. “I think now that we’re seeing more of it in this country, especially in larger cities like San Francisco and New York, we will have more access, but it’s still challenging to get access to the medication.”
Doctors said most cases are from skin-to-skin contact.
“Anybody can get monkeypox who has been exposed to it. Right now, it’s primarily in the gay community. So, if you’re a member of that community, I think those are the people who should really think about getting the vaccine,” Vhide said. " I think the really difficult thing to know is when are you going to be exposed to it. It is not widely. There aren’t so many people. There are less than 20,000 in the entire world. So, it’s not like this is a really common infection like COVID, but again, we worry about it because it is increasing in the world.”
They also said Jynneos is a safe vaccine; like any medication, people should consider if they are at risk of getting the disease.
While monkeypox is not as contagious as many other infections, doctors recommended that people still take this disease seriously but do not panic.