Although only one case of monkeypox has been reported in Knox County, the Knox County Health Department is administering vaccines to those currently identified as high risk.
Monkeypox is primarily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact. Men who have sex with men have been identified as the most at-risk in this year’s worldwide outbreak. This group is being prioritized for vaccines.
The viral disease has infected over 9,000 people in the United States, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization declared it a public health emergency in July.
Two doses are required for full protection, offered about a month apart.
‘It’s largely preventable’:Knoxville doctor on what you need to know about monkeypox
Knox News reached out to Kelsey Wilson of Knox County Health Department regarding monkeypox concerns and vaccine access.
For more information about monkeypox, call the health department at 865-215-5093.
Where to get the monkeypox vaccine and who should get it
Knox County Health Department: We are administering vaccine (at no charge to the patient) and are following CDC recommendations regarding eligibility, first prioritizing those in the identified high-risk groups who are at greatest risk for severe disease. Currently, the group at highest risk of exposure to monkeypox includes gay and bisexual men. Due to limited supply, those who are at highest risk for severe disease (i.e., immunosuppressed individuals) are being prioritized for vaccination in the initial stages of vaccine distribution.
How concerned should Knox County residents be about monkeypox?
While we encourage everyone to be aware of how this virus is transmitted and take steps to reduce the spread, the risk remains low. Additionally, it is reassuring to see that in most cases across the country, the disease is relatively mild and without lasting severe health outcomes.
What can the health department share regarding this monkeypox outbreak being framed as a ‘gay disease’ or STI?
Anyone who has direct skin-to-skin contact (regardless of sexual activity) with the rash or other objects that had contact with the rash can get the virus. While the greatest number of cases are currently being seen among gay and bisexual men, transmission can happen to anyone with direct contact to the virus.
What’s the main thing Knox County residents should know about monkeypox?
We encourage folks to be aware of how monkeypox spreads. To that end, avoid close skin-to-skin contact with a person who has rash that looks like monkeypox. If you have symptoms, reach out to your provider and get tested. If someone has questions about vaccine eligibility, they can call KCHD at 865-215-5093.