Monkeypox cases rising in Georgia
State health officials are struggling to keep up with the demand for vaccines to fight monkeypox cases as the number of infected in Georgia continues to rise.
Officials say the vaccine supplies remain tight, but they are prioritizing those at the highest risk following a doubling of monkeypox cases over the past week in Georgia.
With the number of monkeypox cases ticking upward in Georgia and around the world, more monkeypox vaccines are expected to arrive in the state soon as part of a nationwide effort to stem the outbreak.
The monkeypox vaccine can help prevent illness and also reduce the severity of the disease for those already infected. Georgia received approximately 3,000 doses of vaccine — enough for 1,500 people to receive the two-dose series.
Georgia’s allocation of the monkeypox vaccine from the federal government will increase as production ramps up.
The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed 93 monkeypox cases in the state on Friday, up from 48 on July 13, all among men living in metro Atlanta.
As of last week, there have been 1,470 confirmed cases of monkeypox virus in the U.S., with cases continuing to rise. It should be noted that there have been no U.S. deaths from the virus, which appeared in the U.S in May.
The state Board of Health said they are prioritizing vaccine distribution in five metro counties: Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, and Clayton with no residency requirement.
The Fulton County Board of Health held an event last weekend to administer 200 doses but the appointments for the vaccines filled up within hours. Additional vaccine events are scheduled in Fulton and Gwinnett counties, but those slots are already full, according to the health departments.
Georgia’s first 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. Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash that can take weeks to clear.
At a Georgia Board of Public Health meeting last week, health officials said the median age of the men is 33, and 57% of the men are Black, 35% are white (there were no specifics on the remaining 8%).