PHOENIX — Maricopa County Department of Public Health says it is prepared for monkeypox, though vaccine supply is still limited.
The Department of Public Health says its first confirmed case was at the beginning of June and as of Thursday, there are 85 confirmed and probable cases.
Sonia Singh, the marketing communications supervisor for Maricopa County Public Health, says risk is still “very low” at this time.
“Monkeypox doesn't transmit like a respiratory illness. It's spread mainly through prolonged direct skin to skin contact. It's not like COVID, which we've all been kind of in the mindset of for the last couple years where it's a respiratory virus,” Singh said. “If someone is sitting near you and you're sharing air, there's a possibility of transmission, It's not like that with monkeypox.”
On Thursday, the White House declared monkeypox a public health emergency. That means states and counties will be able to get more resources to fight the virus soon.
Currently, Singh said the county gets only a limited supply of vaccines. In the last week through multiple clinics, more than 1,300 people were vaccinated. Vaccine supply varies.
“That's part of why we're really focused on those who are most at risk of being exposed right now is because we do have limited vaccine supply. We're working everything we can to be able to get those vaccines out to the people who are at highest risk, so we can try and reduce spread,” she said.
Singh said few people have been turned away from getting the vaccine for monkeypox.
According to Maricopa County Public Health, those who are at high risk include:
- People who identify as gay, bisexual or trans women
- People who have intimate or sexual contact with other men or who have had multiple or anonymous partners
- Anyone who lives with another person who tested positive for monkeypox
- Health care providers who work in places where exposure to monkeypox happens often
Anyone can get monkeypox but health officials say a majority of those who do get the virus are those in the LGBTQ community.
Jeanne Woodbury, the policy and communications director for Equality Arizona, is concerned for what could come for that community.
“The stigma around: this has something to do with gay sexual behavior is something that puts people at risk and also puts the gay community at risk for additional shunning or social shame at a time where there's increasing backlash against LGBT rights,” Woodbury said.
MCDPH will host another vaccine clinic on Monday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 1645 E. Roosevelt, Phoenix.
Only three counties in the state are getting vaccine supplies: Maricopa, Coconino and Pima counties.
Those exposed to monkeypox could experience symptoms like:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
Within one to three days after a fever, people exposed could develop rashes, too.
For more information on the clinic or what to do when you have symptoms, visit the Maricopa County Department of Public Health here.