Yesterday in the series, Pride Source featured infectious disease expert Dr. Paul Benson, who said he believes monkeypox can be eradicated. Today, Oakland County Health Official Dr. Calandra Green separates fact from fiction and talks about vaccine eligibility:
Dr. Calandra Green leads the Oakland County Health Division. She oversees the county’s monkeypox taskforce, which was announced by County Executive Dave Coulter on July 21. Its purpose is to get ahead of the virus by planning for the widespread rollout of the vaccine when more becomes available.
According to Coulter, pharmaceutical companies are gearing up production of the vaccine. He expects more doses by the end of August and significantly more by October.
“Oakland County had the first case of monkeypox,” Green said, “and so we received an initial allocation of 20 doses [of the Jynneos vaccine], and then the state sent us 1,040.” Oakland County is one of the “hubs” in Michigan where vaccine is being distributed by the state and from which it can be redistributed. The other hubs are the city of Detroit as well as Washtenaw, Kent, Kalamazoo, Ingham, Genesee and Grand Traverse counties.
Green said there are very straightforward criteria for vaccine eligibility, which are specified by the state. She said they’re treating based on exposure. An individual must be able to attest to a few basic assessment questions.
“If they’ve had a sexual partner in the past 14 days that has received a diagnosis of monkeypox, they would be considered a close contact,” Green said. “They could receive the Jynneos vaccine. If they’ve been notified by a nurse or a health department or a health care provider that they’ve been exposed to someone that’s been diagnosed with monkeypox, they would then also be a close contact and they could be vaccinated. That’s what the state called a post-exposure prophylaxis.
“There is [also] a post-exposure prophylaxis plus,” she continued, “in which someone who identifies as being gay, bisexual, transgender and who report having sex with other men, and in the last two weeks, attest to having group sex with multiple partners or sex at a commercial sex venue or an association with an event, venue or geographic area where monkeypox has been reported, they would be considered [for] post-exposure prophylaxis plus.”
Since the time of the interview, vaccine access has expanded to people who have HIV, those on PrEP and a few other criteria.
The vaccine is offered daily at the Oakland County Health Department North Campus from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Pre-screening by phone is required to make an appointment. Call 1-800-848-5533 for more information.
Green cleared up any confusion about how the disease is transmitted. “I would say that what we know and what little we know about this right now is that it’s really related to folks that have a rash,” Green said, “that it can [also] be on bed linen where there’s seepage from the rash and bodily fluids, and prolonged face-to-face contact where you might be getting someone’s bodily fluids on you.”
Once an individual contracts MPV, they’re advised to isolate, Green explained.
“We ask that the person who tests positive to isolate for up to 21 days due to the nature of the monkeypox,” Green said. “They could spread this to others based on all those criteria that we just talked about. ‘Isolate’ means refraining from intercourse, being protective of your bed linens and making sure that they’re separated and washed separately. And that you have no direct contact with others up until the point where the rashes have healed over and new skin has grown over, because that’s how the infection is spread.”
More vaccine is coming to Michigan; Green was pleased to report they were expecting an allocation the day of this interview, Aug. 3. As Coulter said, the state of Michigan can expect a larger volume of doses, but that date is unknown. The good news, Green said, is the state has been great about making different allocations to the county. At the same time, demand is greater than supply right now.
“I think that there’s not enough vaccine that is being disseminated,” Green said. “And we look to our partners in the federal government to support the state and the local health department in our efforts to contain the spread of this virus as quick as possible. And we know that there’s a vaccine that folks that are at risk can receive and we need more doses.”
Green cautioned against stigmatizing any one group. And she wanted to dispel a myth.
“I think that the biggest message is that anyone can get the virus,” Green said, “and so we want to make sure that everyone has all the information about how it’s spread and how to protect themselves, and not to target any specific populations or groups of people. And so that really is the only myth: this is not a sexually transmitted disease; it is something that anyone can get, although the CDC does report that there is low risk to the general public.”
Tomorrow, visit Pride Source for Part 4 of this series, Monkeypox in Michigan, to meet an Ypsilanti man who turned socializing into social action after learning a good friend had the first known case of monkeypox in the state.
Monkeypox in Michigan Series: