Despite social media rumors, no monkeypox cases in Troup; vaccine clinic scheduled

Published 2:40 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2022

As confirmed cases of monkeypox continue to increase across the state, District 4 Public Health will hold three appointment-only Monkeypox vaccine clinics on Friday, Aug. 5, at its health departments in Lamar, Spalding, and Troup counties.

As of noon on Wednesday, Aug. 3, District 4’s epidemiologists said no confirmed cases have been reported in Troup County, according to Natalie Shelton, District 4 Public Health’s public information officer and risk communicator.

Registration links for the three upcoming vaccine clinics will be available online beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, at www.district4health.org as well as District 4 Public Health’s Facebook and Instagram pages. All Facebook pages of District 4’s county health departments also will provide the link.

Appointments at the Troup County Health Department will be available between 8:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Spalding County’s clinic is from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Lamar County’s clinic is from 8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. The vaccines are free, and there is no residency requirement

Due to the limited number of doses available across the state, DPH said only individuals currently at high risk for getting monkeypox are eligible for a vaccine. At this time, those considered high-risk are men who identify as having sex with other men and who have either had a sexual partner in the past 14 days who has received a monkeypox diagnosis, or who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in an area with known monkeypox. Anyone getting the vaccine must be 18 or older.

District 4 Public Health said it will continue to make more appointments available at its county health departments as it receives new vaccine shipments from the state. It also will let the public know if any eligibility requirements change.

“District 4 had its first monkeypox vaccine clinic last night at the Henry County Health Department, and we were very encouraged by the feedback we received from those who came,” Shelton said. “They said the online registration process was easy to navigate, and several mentioned they were grateful to secure an appointment after trying in several other places that were already filled.”

Though the current global outbreak appears mostly to affect men who have sex with men, monkeypox is relevant to everyone, Shelton said.

“Monkeypox cases in humans have been reported globally since 1970, and it’s shown through the years that it doesn’t discriminate,” she said. “However, unlike COVID-19, the monkeypox virus doesn’t spread easily between people, and the CDC still considers the risk to the general public to be low.”

Monkeypox can spread through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact with an infected person who has symptoms, according to CDC information. Brief interactions not involving physical contact are not high risk. The virus can spread through direct contact with rash, scabs or body fluids of an infected person; respiratory droplets (saliva) during direct and prolonged face-to-face contact with an infected person; and contact with bedding, clothing or other objects that have been contaminated by body fluids or sores of an infected person

A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

Individuals are urged to call their local health department if they’ve been exposed to monkeypox or are currently experiencing signs and symptoms, particularly red lesions or a pimple-like rash that appears on the face or other parts of the body. Callers will be asked for their contact information so a nurse can call them back by the end of the day. Based on one’s symptoms and history, the nurse may then need to consult a medical epidemiologist after the phone screening to determine if someone needs to be tested.

Because of the time involved in this process, the health department is unable to accept walk-ins for suspected monkeypox. Individuals who walk in to the health department because they think they may have monkeypox will be asked for their contact information so a nurse can call them by the end of the day.