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“Get checked. Get tested. Protect yourself.”
Raleigh, NC on July 25, 2022. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has expanded the list of higher-risk individuals who are eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine to help prevent spread in the state.
Vaccines to protect against monkeypox are now available for:
- Anyone who has had close contact in the last two weeks with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, and
- Gay or bisexual men or transgender people who report any of the following in the past 90 days:
- Having multiple sexual partners or anonymous sex
- Being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection
- Receive medications to prevent HIV infection (PrEP)
While monkeypox can affect anyone through direct skin-to-skin contact, our data now shows that nearly all cases in North Carolina and across the country have been in gay, bisexual, and other men who they have sex with men,” NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley said. . “Everyone in our health system across the state should work quickly to increase testing and vaccinate those most at risk so we can contain this outbreak.”
To date, 533 doses have been administered statewide. The federal government has allocated 4,548 doses of vaccine to North Carolina, enough to fully vaccinate approximately 2,300 people with the recommended two-dose vaccination series. These doses have been distributed to nine local health departments (contact information below) that offer vaccines and work with other health departments and clinics to ensure vaccine availability statewide. More vaccines are expected in the coming weeks. The vaccine is free and available to people who meet the above criteria.
Vaccination after a recent exposure can reduce the chance of getting monkeypox and can reduce the severity of symptoms if you do get monkeypox. Those interested in receiving the vaccine should contact their local health department to find out if they are eligible and to schedule an appointment.
Data shared by the NCDHHS indicates that more than 60% of monkeypox cases reported so far in North Carolina have been in Black/African American men.
“It is very concerning to see disparities emerging in our monkeypox cases,” said state epidemiologist Zack Moore, MD, MPH. “We are working with our partners to raise awareness of monkeypox in LBGTQ+ communities of color and to make sure that vaccines and other resources reach this community so they can take action to lower their chances of contracting monkeypox.” .
- First, get checked out . If you have had skin-to-skin contact, including sex, with someone with monkeypox, see a health care provider. If you have lumps, sores, or a rash that looks like blisters or pimples, see a health care provider. Call your local health department if you don’t have a provider.
- Second, get tested. Testing is widely available and is recommended if you have symptoms of monkeypox. Samples must be collected by a healthcare professional. NCDHHS recommends that providers be vigilant and test any patient with a suspicious injury or sore.
- Third, protect yourself . Vaccines are available for those who meet the above criteria. These criteria will be re-evaluated and likely expanded as more vaccine becomes available in the coming weeks. Most people with monkeypox infection get better on their own. Therapies are available and may be recommended for people at high risk of severe disease.
“Health care providers are the key link to getting checked, tested and protected,” said Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, MD, MPH, State Health Director and NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer. “We want to emphasize that testing is widely available and anyone with symptoms should get tested.”
Below you will find more information about testing, immunizations, treatment, and where to find additional resources and contact information for local health departments .
There is a lot of testing capacity. The North Carolina State Public Health Laboratory, many commercial labs, and some health systems have testing capacity, and more labs will have testing capacity soon. Health care providers can send the tests to the State Public Health Laboratory or to a commercial laboratory. Every health care provider should have a plan for getting their patients tested for monkeypox when they need it.
The vaccine, known as Jynneos, has been assigned by the federal government and distributed to nine local health departments. The locations share the vaccine with other health departments and various clinics within North Carolina to ensure vaccine availability statewide. The vaccine is free and available to people who meet the above criteria. Vaccination after a recent exposure can reduce the chance of getting monkeypox and can reduce the severity of symptoms if you do get monkeypox. Those interested in receiving the vaccine can make an appointment through their local health department or one of the nine LHDs listed below. Currently, pharmacies cannot administer the vaccine.
Most infections last two to four weeks, and most people with monkeypox get better on their own without treatment. Antiviral therapies are available for those who are most likely to get seriously ill, including people with lesions in the mouth, eye area, genitals, or rectum, and people with weakened immune systems. Monkeypox is rarely fatal and no deaths related to this outbreak have been reported worldwide. North Carolina Interim Therapeutic Guidance for Physicians can be found here. Physicians in North Carolina who wish to order tecovirimat can do so here .
For more information on monkeypox symptoms and transmission, visit the NCDHHS Division of Public Health PH website here.
NCDHHS maintains additional resources on its monkeypox webpage . A count of North Carolina cases is now displayed at the top of the page. A set of communication tools is available, as well as guidance for providers and local health departments.
The health departments where vaccines are currently available are:
- Buncombe (828) 250-5300
- Cumberland (919) 433-3600
- Durham (919) 560-9217
- Forsyth (336) 703-3100
- Guilford (336) 641-3245
- Mecklenburg (980) 314-9400
- New Hanover (910) 798-6800
- Pitt (252) 902-2300
- Awakening (919) 250-4462