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The monkeypox vaccine is available in Hamilton County, but supplies are low

A Black man at a podium with three people behind him: two white men and one white woman.
Becca Costello
From left: Interim Cincinnati Health Commissioner Grant Mussman, Cincinnati Council Member Reggie Harris, Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus, and Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman.

Hamilton County has received about 350 doses of the monkeypox vaccine and will be distributing it to people in high-risk groups. Interim Cincinnati Health Commissioner Dr. Grant Mussman says those people will get the shot, based on a risk tier developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  1. Tier One: people at risk for occupational exposure (i.e. clinical personnel) and individuals identified as close contacts or direct exposures.
  2. Tier Two: attendees at events/venues linked to known monkeypox transmission.
  3. Tier Three: individuals likely to have prolonged intimate contact that would put them at higher risk of being exposed.
  4. Tier Four: nationally or locally identified groups with high risk of exposure.

Tier three could include men who have sex with men, but health officials say the prevalence of monkeypox among gay men is coincidental.
Both the city and Hamilton County health departments have websites for those wanting the vaccine to take a risk assessment and to register.

"If you do feel like you have been exposed to monkey pox, we would encourage you to talk to your primary care physician, or where you would normally seek medical care," said Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman. "It's also important to remember only individuals with lesions are able to be tested. Meaning if you feel sick and you don't have lesions, there is no test currently available for you."

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact. It can cause a rash which may look like pimples or blisters, and sometimes be accompanied by a flu-like illness. Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. That can take several weeks.

Council Member Reggie Harris says the disease is not prevalent in the area right now.

"Our biggest challenge right now is vaccine supply," Harris said. "And we know that's for a number of reasons, supply chain being one. Two, that this being a sort of a new episode, and then the ramping up of those productions. We have the infrastructure to proactively vaccinate, we have screening tools available."

As of Aug. 8, the CDC reported 68 cases in Ohio, 77 in Indiana and 11 in Kentucky.

Cincinnati Health reported the first two cases in the city in July. There are now four cases in Hamilton County, three of them in the city.

Updated: August 9, 2022 at 12:14 PM EDT
This post was originally published on August 8 and has been updated.
Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.
Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.