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Monkeypox vaccines delivered to Dallas County to combat virus outbreak

Monkeypox Vaccine New York
Mary Altaffer
/
AP
Healthcare workers with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the City's vaccination sites, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in New York. The World Health Organization recently declared that the expanding monkeypox outbreak is a global emergency.

Dallas County received a shipment of more than 5,000 monkeypox vaccines to help treat the virus outbreak.

There are more than 80 active cases in the county, the highest number in the state. Dallas County Health and Human Services received a little less than half of the Texas Department of State Health Services’ allotment of vaccine from the federal Strategic National Stockpile.

Public Information Officer Christian Grisales for Dallas County Health and Human Services said the department was grateful to receive the vaccines.

“We continue to work with the state to make sure we receive more supply as those doses are distributed,” he said. “It’s just great news for everyone out there in the community.”

The first case of monkeypox in the United States was reported in early May, and the first in Dallas County was reported in early June from someone who traveled outside the United States. Cases are spread through direct physical contact, including sexual contact, with people who are infected.

“Anyone can get it,” Grisales said. “It’s not exclusive to one community and that’s why we all have to be aware. That’s something that we’re trying to be sure the community understands and knows.”

Infections are usually characterized by a bumpy, blistery rash on the body, found on the groin, face, hands or feet. It can also include flu symptoms like fever, headache, chills and exhaustion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state the virus lasts between two weeks and a month, with the rash appearing five days into symptoms.

Grisales said that if people think they’ve come in contact with someone who has monkeypox, or are showing symptoms, to isolate and get tested by a healthcare provider. If the person tests positive, the county health department will then get in touch to confirm the case and coordinate vaccination. He said currently vaccines are being distributed on a case-by-case basis.

The vaccine is a two-series shot, which has a high chance of preventing the virus if taken within four days of exposure, and lessens the duration and severity of symptoms if taken between four and 14 days of exposure, according to the CDC.

To prevent exposure, Grisales encourages people to go back to COVID-19 prevention methods like hand washing and limiting contact.

“No matter what you do, you should continue washing your hands,” he said. “Those are the things we’ve learned through COVID: clean surfaces, wash our hands constantly.”

If someone thinks they were exposed, or need help accessing health support if they do not have a primary care physician, Grisales said to get in touch with the department by calling (214) 819-2004, ext. 6. More information and updates on weekly case counts can be found on the county health department website.

Got a tip? Email Elena Rivera at erivera@kera.org. You can follow Elena on Twitter @elenaiswriting.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Elena Rivera is the health reporter at KERA. Before moving to Dallas, Elena covered health in Southern Colorado for KRCC and Colorado Public Radio. Her stories covered pandemic mental health support, rural community health access issues and vaccine equity across the region.