CDC announces monkeypox vaccine allotment for Washington state

OLYMPIA, Wash. — To help stop the spread of monkeypox virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced plans to distribute a limited amount of vaccines to Washington state.

Because there is a limited supply, allocations are based on the number of monkeypox cases in each state. Due to the relatively small number of cases in Washington, the state has been allotted 398 courses (796 doses) of the 2-dose JYNNEOS vaccine, and 272 courses have already been distributed to people with known cases and close contacts.

Currently, 15 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox have been identified in Washington state, including one person who was exposed in another state, but tested positive in Washington. All other cases are residents of King County.

Recently, cases have been identified in people who have no history of recent travel, meaning they were likely exposed to monkeypox locally. Investigators are working to notify close contacts of these cases.

“The risk to the public is low at this time. Transmission generally requires close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has symptoms of the disease,” said State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases, Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH. “For people who have had recent contact with someone who tested positive for monkeypox, the vaccine can reduce the chance of developing a monkeypox infection.”

The CDC does not consider monkeypox an occupational risk for health care professionals and does not currently recommend vaccinations.

Monkeypox can cause flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that can appear anywhere on the body. In the current outbreak, many cases have presented with lesions on the genitals or in the anal area. Some people have initially had rectal pain, with or without flu-like symptoms.

Anyone can get monkeypox, but some people are at a higher risk. Unlike the virus that causes COVID-19, monkeypox is primarily spread through close contact and does not spread through the air over longer distances. Brief interactions that do not involve physical contact and health care interactions conducted using appropriate protective equipment are generally considered low risk.

Public health officials encourage anyone who has symptoms of monkeypox, or anyone who has been in close contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox in the last 21 days, to contact a health care provider to see if they should be tested. Providers should have a high level of suspicion if patients present with a rash, especially if they also report recent sexual or close contact with a possible case.

Infections with the strain of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak are rarely fatal. Most do not require hospitalization. To date, no one in the U.S. has died of monkeypox.

People infected with the virus usually recover in 2-4 weeks, but the disease can be serious, especially for immunocompromised people, children, people with a history of eczema, or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

“DOH is actively working with local health jurisdictions, tribal partners, and community groups to develop an equitable distribution plan for this vaccine,” Lindquist said. “We just need more vaccine.”

READ: Health officials: Monkeypox likely spreading in King County

READ: First probable monkeypox case reported in Idaho