Vermonters start getting vaccinated against human monkeypox virus

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:44 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vaccines for the human monkeypox virus or HMPXV are starting to go into Vermonters’ arms after the state confirmed its first case.

The Vermont Department of Health says in an effort to reduce stigma, that’s how they will refer to the virus while the World Health Organization works to rename it.

Some Vermonters have already been vaccinated against it.

State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso said the state is able to apply for about 140 vaccine doses as of Monday. This comes after the CDC’s first allocation of 86 doses.

It’s a two-dose vaccine, and Kelso said only a few doses have been distributed to Vermonters so far.

Right now, those who may have been exposed to the virus are being prioritized along with those who are at high risk. That means people who have a compromised immune system, have eczema, are under the age of 8, are pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Kelso said the health department does not anticipate an explosive growth or quick spread of the virus due to the way people become exposed. Unlike COVID-19, the human monkeypox virus is spread from skin to skin contact.

“It’s not like COVID where it’s going to take over our lives and mean we have to have restrictions in place. We don’t foresee that at all. This really takes personal close contact, skin touching skin. And so there will be some spread,” Kelso said.

Kelso said anyone can get the human monkeypox virus from skin-to-skin contact, whether that be intimate contact or contact from a crowded space like a dance floor.

It’s important to be aware if you’re experiencing symptoms, which can include a rash, fever and muscle aches, to name a few, and if you know of someone who might have the virus.

Kelso said the vaccine is used after people have been exposed to the virus. She said the department gets maybe a handful of calls inquiring about it every day and they likely won’t be able to meet the need of everyone who wants to get it. But they will be able to order more vaccine doses in August.

Related Story:

1st monkey pox infection confirmed in Vermont

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