Local health departments in Georgia to administer monkeypox vaccines

There are no residency requirements but appointments are required.

As the monkeypox outbreak grows in Georgia, vaccines against the infectious disease are starting to be more widely administered at local health departments this week, but demand far outstrips supply, with appointments for the vaccine filling up in some cases in a matter of minutes.

In Gwinnett County, appointments for all 300 doses of the vaccine to be administered this week filled up in 45 minutes, according to Chad Wasdin, public information officer for the Gwinnett County Health Department. The Gwinnett County Health Department as well as other local health departments, including DeKalb, Fulton County and Cobb counties, are posting information about the vaccine being available and links to register for the vaccine on their county health department’s websites as well as on social media. The links are no longer live once the spots are filled. The Clayton County health department is also expected to receive vaccine doses but details were not yet available.

The DeKalb County Board of Health announced Monday the administering of monkeypox vaccines at several locations over the coming days. As of Monday afternoon, slots were still available at the DeKalb County Board of Health website. The DeKalb County Board of Health also announced a mass vaccination clinic for 200 people on Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There are no residency requirements for any of the vaccination sites, but appointments are required.

“To have people seek out the vaccine to be safe and keep safe and to keep our community safe is very encouraging,” said Wasdin.

Georgia has received approximately 6,000 doses of vaccine – enough for 3,000 people to receive the two-dose series. A total of 13,876 doses have been allocated for the state by the federal government, with several thousand more doses expected to arrive during the coming days.

Allocations of the monkeypox vaccine from the federal government will increase as production of the vaccine ramps up.

The monkeypox vaccine can help prevent illness, and also reduce the severity of the disease for those already infected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for people who have been in close contact with someone with the virus or if they suspect they may have been exposed to the virus, such as having multiple sex partners in an area with known monkeypox cases.

On Monday, there were confirmed 268 monkeypox cases in the state, all among men, and with the vast majority living in metro Atlanta, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. As more commercial labs have begun handling tests for monkeypox, the confirmed number of cases is rising quickly here and around the world.

On Friday, U.S. health officials reported for the first time monkeypox cases in children — one is a toddler in California and the other an infant who is not a U.S. resident but was tested while in Washington, D.C., according to the CDC.

The children were described as being in good health and receiving treatment. How they caught the disease is being investigated, but officials think it was through household transmission.

The World Health Organization chief said Saturday the expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global emergency, a declaration that could spur further investment in treating the once-rare disease and worsen the scramble for scarce vaccines.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the decision on calling monkeypox a global emergency despite a lack of consensus among experts on the U.N. health agency’s emergency committee, saying he acted as “a tiebreaker.” It was the first time a U.N. health agency chief has unilaterally made such a decision without an expert recommendation.

There have been no reported deaths in the U.S. from monkeypox, which appeared in May in Europe and the U.S. As of Friday, there have been 2,891 confirmed cases of monkeypox in U.S. residents this year, according to the CDC. The U.S. and global case counts include laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases and infections attributed to an orthopoxvirus, the genus of viruses that includes monkeypox.

Georgia’s first-ever case was announced in early June. While several of the cases here are associated with either international travel or traveling to a recent conference in Chicago, more recent cases were not associated with travel, according to DPH.

While most cases so far are among men who have sex with men, health officials emphasize that anyone can contract the virus through close personal contact and via towels and bedding.

Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash that can take weeks to clear.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

How to get the monkeypox vaccine

Local health departments in metro Atlanta are starting to administer the vaccine at the health departments and they are holding vaccination clinics. Doctors can also request the vaccine for their patients on a case-by-case basis.

For Gwinnett County, go to gnrhealth.com/

For DeKalb County, go to dekalbhealth.net/

For Fulton County, go to fultoncountyga.gov/ and then click on health services

For Cobb County, go to cobbanddouglaspublichealth.com/

For Clayton County, go to https://www.claytoncountypublichealth.org/