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Plans to distribute the monkeypox vaccine in the St. Louis area

DHSS distributed 1,900 vials of the vaccine to the St. Louis County health department to use in the region and to distribute to other areas of the state.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Health officials in the St. Louis area have announced a plan to distribute the monkeypox vaccine for those who are eligible.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has designated the St. Louis County Department of Public Health as the region’s vaccine hub for the City of St. Louis and St. Louis, Jefferson and St. Charles counties.

DHSS distributed 1,900 vials of the monkeypox vaccine to the county health department for use within the region and for distribution to other areas of the state that experience an increased need for vaccines, according to a press release from the health department.

Several people may be vaccinated with each vial, according to recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

RELATED: US will stretch monkeypox vaccine supply with smaller doses

Under the health department’s current plan, a portion of the vials will be reserved for health departments and other health care providers to use to protect close contacts of people with monkeypox, according to the release.

The remaining vials will be available to health departments and clinics to vaccinate people who meet CDC criteria for being at high risk for the disease.

DHSS has set up a public survey to identify people who are at high risk for getting monkeypox and may qualify for the initial round of doses. 

Click here to take the survey.

Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which is related to the virus that causes smallpox, according to the health department.

Those with the disease usually have flu-like symptoms and fatigue, followed by a rash that looks like pimples, sores or blisters. The sores can be painful or itchy. 

The monkeypox infection is rarely fatal.

Monkeypox is spread through close skin-to-skin contact or through shared clothing or bedding. Anyone can get the disease, but men who have sex with men have been most affected during the current outbreak, according to the health department. Those individuals will be prioritized in the department’s current vaccine plan.

RELATED: Yes, monkeypox can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, but current risk is low

The vaccine protects against the disease, but it isn’t used to treat people who have already contracted it. Vaccination consists of two doses per person and is administered four weeks apart, with maximum effectiveness at least two weeks after the second dose.

At this time, supply of the vaccine is limited across the country. Missouri health experts expect the demand for the vaccine to outweigh the supply. The county health department has requested additional doses of the vaccine and expects more from the state in the coming days, depending on availability.

For more information on monkeypox, visit the DHSS website.

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