Health officials explain how to get monkeypox vaccine in Central Texas

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:05 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The Waco-Mclennan County Public Health District reported two new monkeypox cases on Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to four. Cases are rising but right now only a select few can get the monkeypox vaccine in Central Texas.

“Priorities right now are for close contacts who are still asymptomatic of a current case and people who are at high risk of contracting monkeypox in the way that it’s being spread currently,” Amy Yeager, director of the Bell County Public Health District, said.

According to the CDC, the monkeypox vaccine called JYNNEOS is prioritized for people who have been exposed and show no symptoms or people who are immunocompromised. Qualifying conditions include HIV, pregnancy or “other immunocompromised conditions.”

“If you think back to COVID, when we first got the vaccine there was only a limited amount of vaccine and public health was hoping to get to people who are at the highest risk of disease,” Yeager said.

As of Wednesday morning, the Bell County Public Health District has not yet received any vaccines from the state. Meanwhile the Waco-Mclennan County Health District has given out six vaccines to people who have been identified as close contacts of a monkeypox case.

“Whenever we have identified people who are at high risk, we have requested the vaccine,” Vaidehi Shah, senior epidemiologist with Waco-Mclennan County Health District, said.

Both health districts are giving monkeypox close contacts the option to get the vaccine after exposure as long as they are asymptomatic.

“We ask them if they would like to get the vaccine and we provide them with the benefits of getting the vaccine,” Shah said. “Then if they consent to get the vaccine, we will place an order for vaccines.”

People who are immunocompromised can contact the Bell County Public Health District by phone at 254-939-2091 or email at disease@bellcountyhealth.org to join the vaccine waitlist.

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