Hawaii distributing monkeypox vaccine to close contacts, those at highest risk

The state's distribution plan has two phases.
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 11:57 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 6, 2022 at 4:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Health Department officials said the state has received 357 doses of the vaccine for monkeypox from the federal government so far and is distributing them to close contacts of people who have contracted the virus.

The vaccine is also being made available to those at high risk of exposure.

Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Nathan Tan told reporters Wednesday that the state has seen six confirmed cases of monkeypox so far amid a nationwide outbreak. All of the cases are linked.

He added that a second phase of vaccine distribution could include more people at greater risk.

“If you were a close contact of someone with monkeypox please contact your healthcare provider. We are working with healthcare providers to make sure these individuals have access to vaccination,” Tan said.

When asked how many close contacts have been identified, state epidemiologist Sarah Kemble said that number wasn’t “readily available.” She added, “For some cases we’ve identified a number of close contacts. While for others, it may be just one or two.”

Kemble did say DOH has had enough vaccine for all those people.

The vaccine is a two-dose regimen administered 28 days apart. Health officials said the shots reduce the chance of getting the virus as well as reduces symptoms if you become infected.

Monkeypox typically requires very close contact to pass from one individual to another.

It often begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes. Patients also experience a rash or sores on the face and body. Individuals generally become ill within 21 days of exposure.

Public health officials have said that many of the cases are among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, suggesting some populations may need to take extra precautions. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone with monkeypox is at higher risk of infection and should monitor symptoms closely.

“Nationwide the current cases are primarily spread among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. So this community is as greater risk for exposure,” Tan said.

The federal government is ramping up production of the vaccine. Hawaii is expected to get more later this year.

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