As the monkeypox virus spreads rapidly across the country, Dallas County has experienced a high call volume on its newly established vaccine hotline.
Shortly after the monkeypox vaccine hotline was activated last week, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins stated that some individuals had trouble getting through the line.
“A lot of call volume. We had actually had some problems with the system [Tuesday] morning that were fixed by lunchtime,” said Jenkins.
The number for the hotline is (972) 692-2780, although a disclaimer on the website cautions callers they may face trouble connecting due to a high volume of calls. The line is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dallas County is not the only metro area facing high demand for the monkeypox vaccine. Widespread demand can be seen across the nation’s biggest cities.
“In New York City, when they first started offering shots, the slots were filled up within 15 minutes. Same thing in Chicago, same thing in Boston, same thing in Washington, D.C. So this community wants to get the vaccines, they want to protect themselves, and they want to protect other people,” said Rafael McDonnell, senior advocacy, policy, and communications manager for the Dallas Resource Center, discussing the disproportionate impact the monkeypox outbreak has had on men who have sex with men.
Still, while most positive cases appear to be occurring among men who have sex with men, anyone can contract monkeypox. The virus can be passed through an infected person’s fluids, contact with an infected person’s lesions, bedding, or clothes, and even from respiratory droplets, like with COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dallas County reported its first instance of monkeypox in June. As of August 5, Dallas County had 224 verified and 36 suspected cases. There are currently 606 cases statewide, according to the CDC.
Over 5,000 doses of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine were delivered to Dallas County last month by Texas Health and Human Services, partly because Dallas County has the most verified cases of monkeypox in the entire state.
The CDC initially announced that only people exposed to the disease could receive a monkeypox vaccine. Now, males 18 years or older who have had any sexual activity during the last two weeks are eligible for the vaccine.