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Cumberland Health Department scheduling monkeypox vaccinations

Because there is a limited supply of the vaccine, the vaccinations are only offered to those with known or suspected exposure to monkeypox, officials say.

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The Cumberland County Department of Public Health has monkeypox vaccines for people who may have been exposed to the virus.

The World Health Organization last weekend determined that monkeypox is a global health emergency. Monkeypox is of the same virus family as smallpox, although milder. It typically involves flu-like symptoms, swelling of the lymph nodes and a rash that includes bumps that are initially filled with fluid before scabbing over, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Those who meet the criteria for exposure will receive the Jynneos vaccine, which has been found to prevent monkeypox illness or at least alleviate severe symptoms after getting the disease.

Dr. Jennifer Green, the county health director, said there have been no confirmed cases in Cumberland County. She said she is making sure the vaccine is available to counter any local incidents as cases become more prevalent in North Carolina.

As of Friday,  53 cases of monkeypox had been reported in North Carolina, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The department updates case information on its website, Monday through Friday, at epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/diseases/monkeypox.html.

There currently is a limited supply of the vaccine; therefore, vaccinations are only offered to individuals with known or suspected exposure to monkeypox.

Green said the Health Department staff has been in constant contact with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to prepare for a possible large-scale monkeypox outbreak.

Green said the county Health Department can test people with symptoms of monkeypox and can contact trace people who may have monkeypox.

Individuals who think they are infected can call the Health Department at 910-433-3600 and ask for a vaccination appointment. They must meet the following criteria:

  • Have been in close physical contact in the last 14 days with someone diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • Know if their sex partner was diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • Be a man who has had sex with another man, or with transgender individuals who report the following during the past 90 days:
  •  Have anonymous or multiple sex partners.
  •  Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.
  •  Are getting HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis.

The Health Department states that if someone has an unexplained rash, sores or other related symptoms, he or she should contact their health provider for proper diagnosis. They also should keep the rash or sores covered and avoid sex or intimate contact.

The Health Department will test by appointment only.

The vaccines are free regardless of health insurance, the Health Department said. People getting the injection will not be billed for the vaccine. If an individual has health insurance, the Health Department will bill the health insurance provider only if the person getting the vaccine agrees.

Green said the Health Department is making sure its staff is trained to meet any escalation in local cases.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NC DHHS recommend that the vaccine be given within four days of exposure to prevent the onset of the disease," Green said. 

"When the vaccine is administered four to 14 days after the date of exposure, it may reduce the symptoms of the disease, but may not prevent the disease," Green said.

Jason Brady covers Cumberland County government for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at jbrady@cityviewnc.com.

Cumberland County, Health Department, monkeypox, vaccinations