Jul 14, 2022 - News

Minnesota begins limited rollout of monkeypox vaccine

A swab that tested positive for the Monkeypox virus is seen at the UW Medicine Virology Laboratory at the UW Medicine Virology Laboratory on July 12, in Seattle, Washington. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Minnesota is slowly rolling out monkeypox vaccines for people considered most at risk of contracting the virus.

Why it matters: While monkeypox won't bring the death and suffering COVID did, public health experts say the current outbreak could get worse without robust testing, vaccinations and communicating about the health risks, Axios' Arielle Dreher reports.

What they're saying: An MDH spokesperson told Axios that the state started with about 240 vaccine doses, but expects to have just over 2,100 from the CDC's Strategic National Stockpile by the end of this week.

  • "We are working with local health departments and local public health partners that serve the populations most at risk to vaccinate those populations and also to do outreach to their most vulnerable patients," spokesperson Doug Schultz said in a statement, noting that dose availability is limited.

State of play: Monkeypox is a virus that causes a rash and is rarely fatal. The strain circulating in the U.S. has largely been transmitted through intimate contact among men who have sex with men, but others can also become infected.

  • The total case count is likely higher than the reported figure, as testing was first confined to public health laboratories and hard to access, similar to the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

By the numbers: Minnesota had confirmed 10 cases of the virus as of Wednesday, per MDH.

Between the lines: At this time, providers are focused on "post-exposure prophylaxis," meaning they're prioritizing patients who have a known exposure to a confirmed case to prevent the disease from spreading.

  • In the coming days, the state expects providers to expand the eligibility pool to include those with likely exposures, Schultz added.

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