Residents Flying Out-of-State for Monkeypox Vaccine

Residents Flying Out of State for Monkeypox Vaccine
Monkeypox vaccine in researcher's hands. | Image by Thirdparty, Shutterstock

As more cases of the monkeypox virus are being recorded in Texas’ major cities, there appears to be a rising demand for the vaccine. 

Clinics devoted to providing care to LGBTQ people report receiving calls from individuals daily who are worried about their risks and want to get immunized.

One Dallas resident, Michael Harris, spoke with WFAA and expressed frustration with the Dallas County health department.

He called multiple times to inquire about the monkeypox vaccine and was repeatedly told he did not qualify. Days later, he and his roommate took a plane to Florida to receive the shot.

Harris noted that his friends in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio are experiencing the same issue.

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) recently announced in a virtual town hall meeting that vaccine eligibility would be expanded due to the increasing spread of monkeypox.

The Dallas Express reported last week that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) received a shipment of 14,780 doses of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccines. Dallas County immediately received 5,120 of those vaccines because of the high number of cases in the area.

However, it is not enough to meet the demand. “It’s still not a lot of doses,” Dr. Philip Huang, director of DCHHS, stated during a virtual panel discussion Wednesday evening organized by Dallas councilmember Omar Narvaez and Dallas state representative Jessica Gonzalez.

The CDC initially ruled that individuals could only receive a monkeypox vaccine after exposure to the disease. 

Now, males 18 years or older who have had any sexual activity during the last two weeks are eligible for the immunization.

Dallas County has established a monkeypox hotline, 972-692-2780, although a notice on the website warns callers may experience difficulty due to a high volume of calls. The hotline is accessible from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Some community clinics and health organizations are currently distributing the vaccines, but only a limited number of doses are available, and appointments fill up quickly.

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, stated while the virus is primarily affecting men who have sex with other men in Texas and around the world, it is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease, and those individuals are not the only ones who become infected.

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