Local health experts explain vaccine eligibility for monkeypox

The Georgia Department of Public Health is ordering 1,200 doses of the monkeypox vaccine, but not everyone will be eligible right away.
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As Monkeypox cases rise, the Georgia Department of Public Health is requesting vaccines

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — The CDC says the U.S. is making plans to distribute 300,000 monkeypox vaccines.

The Georgia Department of Public Health says it’s ordering the vaccine.

Local resident Carl James says he doesn’t know much about the virus, but acknowledged he’s worried about it.

“I’m afraid of it,” he said. “Yes, I really am afraid of it.”

Despite fears, experts at Piedmont Macon say you shouldn’t worry.

“I think it’s unlikely to become anything near as widespread as Covid-19,” Piedmont Macon’s Inefectious Disease Specialist Dr. Jennifer Hoffman said. “I just don’t think that’s going to happen, mostly because it’s not that contagious.”

Hoffman says although vaccines will soon arrive in Georgia, not everyone will be eligible.

“Preventative vaccination at this point is limited to people who work specifically with these orthopox viruses, doing tests for monkeypox,” she said. “Post exposure vaccination, if you’re exposed and can get the vaccine in the first four or so days after exposure, that can prevent you from getting it. If you can get it in the first week or two, it can make your case less severe.”

DPH, which has ordered more than 1,200 vaccine doses, reported 14 cases of monkeypox in the state as of Wednesday.

Hoffman shared symptoms to look for.

“Characteristic rash with fever, with swollen lymph nodes,” she said. “And in the setting of a possible contact, that is what would make me think, ‘Oh, this is monkeypox.'”

Labcorp locations are now testing for monkeypox with an orthopox test.

Hoffman says monkeypox’s recovery process can take up to four weeks. She adds the fatality rate is between three and 11 percent.

It’s a risk James says he’s not willing to take.

“Staying out the way,” he said. “That’s all I can do. That’s the only thing I know to do.”

For more information on monkeypox, click here.

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