COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH/AP)– Eight of the 930 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States are in Ohio as of mid-July, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as demand for the vaccine to help prevent the spread of the virus increases.
OhioHealth medical director of infectious diseases Dr. Joseph Gastaldo said Friday that with the very limited supply of the dose in the United States, getting the vaccine as a preventative measure is not an option for Ohioans currently.
“Unfortunately, there is only one factory in the world in Europe that makes this vaccine called Jynneos,” Dr. Gastaldo stated. “In a perfect world, we would like to preventatively give the monkeypox vaccine out to anybody who is at risk of getting it. That’s not the capacity right now.”
Federal officials say they are currently distributing the vaccines based on each area’s case numbers and the portion of the population that is at higher risk from the virus. New York has far and away the most cases with 414 as of Thursday, according to the CDC.
“Nationally, with a limited supply that we have, the priority is to do ring vaccination. What that means is: if somebody has had a proven exposure to somebody with monkeypox, those people will be prioritized to get the vaccine to prevent them from getting monkeypox,” explained Dr. Gastaldo.
Thursday, U.S. officials said thousands of more doses could be shipping from Denmark soon, the Associated Press reported. Previously, 132,000 doses had shipped to health departments, including more than 21,000 to New York City and 44,000 to California.
“I’ve had many people in Ohio reach out to me inquiring on how they can get the monkeypox vaccine preventatively ahead of time. And right now, that’s not an option the state of Ohio,” Dr. Gastaldo added.
Dr. Gastaldo classifies the virus, which presents as skin lesions and flu-like symptoms, as “very hardy,” meaning it can stay infectious on clothing and linens for a while, but “nowhere near as contagious or transmissible” as other recent viruses such as COVID-19 or the flu.
“You really need to have prolonged intimate contact with somebody [to contract monkeypox],” said Dr. Gastaldo. “The main way this is spread is through the people who have the lesions on their skin and you have prolonged, intimate contact with somebody or you have prolonged, intimate contact with somebody where they’re face to face in front of you and their droplets of spit get on you.”
You cannot get monkeypox by casually walking by somebody at the grocery store.Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, OhioHealth medical director of infectious diseases
While monkeypox is not a “classic sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhea or genital herpes,” Dr. Gastaldo said many people with the virus will have lesions in their genital or anal areas, particularly men who have sex with men.
“In the United States, the vast majority of monkeypox is in the men who have sex with men community, and we really need to take that message to that community: Monkeypox is out there. You really have to be cognizant of people in your social circles. You need to be cognizant of people you’re intimate with. And you really need to advocate for yourself to get tested or evaluated if you have any skin lesions,” he said.
Dr. Gastaldo added that he is hopeful that more widespread availability of the preventive vaccine for monkeypox will be available towards the end of 2022.
You can watch the full interview with Dr. Gastaldo in the video player below.