Pima County monkeypox vaccine supplies to go toward people most at risk

Published: Monday, August 8, 2022 - 4:50pm
Updated: Monday, August 8, 2022 - 4:51pm

Health officials in Pima County say the county is ramping up to offer more monkeypox vaccines as additional supplies arrive in the coming weeks. 

Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said the county received 900 doses of the monkeypox vaccine and had administered nearly 400 doses during a vaccine clinic Saturday. People exposed to someone with a confirmed monkeypox case and those with certain risk factors determined by federal health officials, like having more than one male sexual partner, are currently eligible to receive the shot.

"We anticipate getting another 460 vaccines by Aug. 15," she said.

Cullen said a second shipment of 460 doses is expected at the end of August, adding the current supply was not enough for the number of people who reported being at a higher risk. She said the Biden administration is working on expediting vaccine supplies, but the next shipment is not currently expected until October or November. The vaccine is a two-dose regiment given 28 days apart. Health officials in some parts of the country where the virus is spreading quickly are providing just one dose to each person to spread out the supply. Cullen said the county is not currently employing that method but could re-evaluate if supply issues persist.   

Although monkeypox is thought to be transmissible through prolonged exposure to fabrics used by someone with the virus or their respiratory droplets, Cullen said the primary mode of transmission is still close physical contact. She said the risk to the general population and school-aged children is still considered low. Health experts stress that while the current outbreak is predominately within groups of men who have sex with men, anyone who comes into direct contract the virus can contract it. 

Arizona had just over 100 monkeypox cases listed as of Monday. That includes six cases in Pima County, a number Cullen expected would increase in the coming week as more tests are processed. 

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