HOUSTON — On Friday, the Houston Health Department received a shipment of more than 5,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine.
Editor's note: The videos attached to this story are from KHOU 11's related reporting on the monkeypox outbreak.
Of the 5,024 doses, HHD plans to keep 3,516 and give 1,508 doses to Harris County Public Health.
HHD says it plans to prioritize doses for those who have come into contact with monkeypox, are presumed to have come in contact with the virus or are at high risk for exposure.
"While the threat of monkeypox to Houston's general population remains low, we welcome this vaccine shipment and look forward to receiving more as long as there is a need in the community," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "I have asked our health department to remain vigilant in its work to educate and advocate on behalf of individuals considered most at-risk."
Due to the limited supply of the vaccine nationwide, HHD says health officials are not recommending widespread vaccination at this time. The allocation of doses in Texas is done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“Our department has for weeks strongly advocated for an increase in the supply of monkeypox doses dedicated to the Houston area,” said HHD Director Stephen Williams. “The shipment represents a significant step forward in protecting people at highest risk for this disease in our community.”
The vaccine is a two-dose series, given four weeks apart, according to HHD.
How does monkeypox spread?
- The disease, which can cause a serious skin rash, appears to be spreading largely via direct contact with the skin or saliva of an infected person.
- Monkeypox can spread from person to person through direct contact with the rash, scabs or bodily fluids like saliva.
- It can also be transmitted with prolonged face-to-face contact via respiratory droplets.
- Pregnant women can transmit the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
- At this time, it's not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids. However, the DSHS says the majority of Texas cases, so far, involve men who've had sex with other men.
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Rash that looks like pimples or blisters; the rash often appears first on the face and/or inside the mouth and then on other parts of the body.
Anyone who develops a rash should avoid direct contact with other people and contact their health care provider as soon as possible for the next steps.
“We want people to know what the symptoms are, and if they have symptoms, to avoid the types of close contact with other people that can spread the disease," said Dr. Jennifer Shuford, the chief epidemiologist in Texas.