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Worried about monkeypox? Here's how Florida will roll out the vaccine

A man waits in line to receive a monkeypox vaccine in Brooklyn, N.Y., earlier this month.
Kena Betancur
AFP via Getty Images
A man waits in line to receive a monkeypox vaccine in Brooklyn, N.Y., earlier this month.

County health departments in Florida will use a three-phase plan to distribute the limited supply of vaccines to groups deemed high-risk.

The Florida Department of Health has finalized a plan for the targeted release of the state's limited monkeypox vaccine supply.

The federal government has doled out the vaccine to requesting states according to their need. By mid-July, Florida had received about 25,000 doses that were distributed through county health departments.

During the first two phases of the vaccination rollout, county health departments will be coordinating distribution with local health care providers. That means Ryan White clinics, clinics for sexually transmitted infections and other health providers who serve HIV-diagnosed men who have sex with men, referred to in the health plan as "MSM."

The third phase will expand distribution to community providers who deal with "MSM" and other high-risk groups, not just those diagnosed with HIV.

Monkeypox is generally not fatal, but some researchers worry that it could mutate and become a greater threat to humans. It causes fever, headaches, muscle aches and a lack of energy. A rash can be present, resembling pimple and pull-filled blisters that can develop all over the body.

The global monkeypox outbreak has mostly affected "MSM," but it can be transmitted to anyone through close and prolonged physical contact, health officials advise.

The Department of Health had recorded 346 monkeypox cases in Florida as of Wednesday.

Here's the plan for the vaccine:

Phase 1

  • Laboratory and select health care personnel at high risk for exposure.
  • Close contacts of monkeypox cases.
  • HIV-diagnosed "MSM" who have a CD4 lymphocyte count under 200 and had a potential exposure to monkeypox.
  • "MSM" who have a recent history of an sexually transmitted infection.

Phase 2

  • All HIV-diagnosed MSM with potential exposure, regardless of CD4 count.

Phase 3

  • All "MSM."
  • Other high-risk groups.

The phases are additive, meaning the pool of eligible groups does not change, it only expands.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, receiving the monkeypox vaccine within four days of exposure can prevent the onset of the disease. Receiving the vaccine between four and 14 days after exposure may not prevent the disease but can significantly reduce symptoms.

County health departments will also provide training to health care providers on how to use tecovirimat, also called TPOXX, an antiviral treatment that has been approved for monkeypox cases at risk for complications or severe outcomes.

Information from NPR was used in this report.

Raymon Troncoso