On July 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced plans to distribute a limited supply of monkeypox vaccine in Washington state. According to the Washington Department of Health, there are currently 15 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the state, including one individual who was exposed in another state but tested positive in Washington. The other 14 cases are King County residents.
Washington has 398 courses of the 2-dose JYNNEOS vaccine, or 796 doses. Of this allocation, 272 courses have already been distributed to jurisdictions with known cases or close contacts.
“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 Scott Lindquist, state communicable disease epidemiologist. “For people who have recently had contact with someone who tested positive for monkeypox, the vaccine may reduce the chance of developing a monkeypox infection.”
The first cases of smallpox were identified in people who traveled outside Washington, but more recent cases have been identified in people with no history of recent travel, meaning smallpox is spreading locally, according to the Department of Health. Investigators are working to notify close contacts of these cases.
The vaccines will be rolled out in two phases. Phase I calls for the federal government to allocate 56,000 doses through a tiered distribution strategy that prioritizes states and jurisdictions with high rates of monkeypox cases.
Phase II will occur in late July or early August, according to the DOH, where an additional 240,000 doses will be made available nationwide. Ultimately, more than one million doses are expected from the nationwide distribution, and the DOH does not know how many doses Washington state will receive.
The majority of Phase I doses will be used to vaccinate high- and intermediate-risk close contacts of confirmed and probable cases, and a limited number of doses will be administered as pre-exposure prophylaxis to laboratory workers who directly handle specimens, according to the DOH. .
Public health officials say once they know how many vaccine doses are arriving in WA and when, they will implement plans to vaccinate high-risk people who have not been exposed to monkeypox. Without additional supplies from the CDC, the state has no plans to hold vaccination clinics or distribute monkeypox vaccine to providers.
“DOH is actively working with local health jurisdictions, tribal partners and community groups to develop an equitable distribution plan for this vaccine,” Lindquist said. “We just need more vaccine.”
What you need to know about monkey pox
Anyone can contract monkey pox, which is spread mainly through close contact. Risk factors include travel to areas where monkeypox is spreading, being sexually active with multiple partners, close, nonsexual contact with a known case, and contact with sick animals.
Monkey pox can cause flu-like symptoms, as well as swollen lymph nodes and rashes anywhere on the body. In the current outbreak, many cases have presented with genital and anal lesions, and some people initially had rectal pain with and without flu symptoms.
Those with symptoms or close contact with a confirmed case in the past 21 days should contact a healthcare provider to get tested. People diagnosed with monkeypox generally recover in 2-4 weeks, according to the DOH, but the disease can be serious for immunocompromised people, children, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
According to the CDCas of July 11, New York has the highest number of monkeypox cases (153), while California has the second highest number of cases (136).