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Kent County Health Department vaccinating eligible people for monkeypox

The Kent County Health Department announced Monday that the monkeypox vaccine is available to those at risk.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — The Kent County Health Department has vaccines on hand to vaccinate eligible people against monkeypox.

The most common symptoms of monkeypox are rash, fever, headache, chills, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes, and back and muscle aches.

Health professionals will give the shot to people with certain risk factors: 

  • They have been exposed to the virus in the last 14 days. Exposure is defined as having close physical contact or prolonged face-to-face contact with someone who has been diagnosed with or has a suspected monkeypox infection.
  • They are a partner or a close household contact with someone who has been exposed to monkeypox in the last 14 days.
  • They identify as a man who has intimate or sexual contact with other men or if they have a history of a sexually transmitted illness in the last year.
  • They are a partner or close household contact of someone who engages in higher-risk sexual activities.
  • They are engaged in any type of sex work.
  • They have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners within the last 14 days, or they plan to.
  • They have had direct close contact at a high-risk event or venue within the last 14 days, or they plan to.
  • They are using HIV PrEP or living with HIV.

To make an appointment to get the monkeypox vaccine, call 616-632-7200, or visit KCHD's website. People who have developed a rash and suspect they may have been exposed to the virus should contact a health care provider.

In Kent County, there have been 13 cases of monkeypox. Amy Shears, the immunization supervisor for KCHD, said the goal is to stop it from getting worse. 

"Luckily, in West Michigan, the spread has not been horrible, it's been very present," said Shears. "But we really want to mitigate the spread in so people can live their lives."

KCHD has given out roughly 600 doses of the monkeypox vaccine since getting doses from MDHHS in July. They have "ample" supply on hand. 

However, not everyone can get the vaccine. You must meet one of the risk factors. If someone does meet one of those risk factors, Shears said "absolutely they should be considering it." 

The monkeypox vaccine is a traditional vaccine, unlike the COVID mRNA vaccine. It is administered intradermally, or under the first layer of skin. Then, there is a second dose of the vaccine given 28 days after the first. 

Shears said out of extreme caution, it is recommended to wait four weeks after getting the monkeypox vaccine before getting a COVID vaccine. 

Michigan has more than 250 reported cases of monkeypox, according to CDC data.

The CDC says there are more than 24,000 cases in the U.S. One person is said to have died from the disease.

“While the rate of infection seems to be falling across the United States and here in Michigan, this is not the time to start taking this virus for granted,” said Dr. Nirali Bora, KCHD Medical Director. “We want everyone to know that we have the vaccine available, and that the vaccine is a safe and effective way to curtail the spread of this virus.”

To learn more about monkeypox symptoms, outbreak data and more, click here.

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