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Houston Health Department pausing monkeypox vaccine appointments due to limited supply

Mayor Turner and Judge Lina Hidalgo said they have sent a letter to the CDC urging for more monkeypox vaccines.

HOUSTON — The Houston Health Department said its pausing monkeypox vaccine appointments starting Thursday due to a limited supply.

It's unknown when appointments will resume, but the department said it will make an announcement when more monkeypox vaccine doses of the JYNNEOS become available.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been 67 confirmed cases of monkeypox across the Houston area as of July 28. More than 50 of those cases are out of Houston.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said a letter has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging them to allocate monkeypox vaccines to the area.

RELATED: Monkeypox: Houston Health Department expands requirements for who can get vaccine to high-risk groups

"We're eager to vaccine at-risk populations before the virus spreads exponentially, rather than wait for exponential growth and then catch up like other jurisdictions have had to do," Hidalgo tweeted along with the letter sent to the CDC.

Turner and Hidalgo said the city and county had received 5,324 doses last Friday. A total of 3,726 doses were sent to the city and the remainder was sent to Harris County. 

"We are grateful for the allocation of vaccines we have received to date; however, we are deeply concerned that the current amount allocated and received will be insufficient to respond to the increase in the number of cases we have seen in Houston and Harris County in recent weeks and the trajectory we are observing elsewhere in the nation," the letter read. "Over the past week (July 16 to 22), the monkeypox infection rate has increased 60% in Harris County and Houston. 

Reporter Jason Miles will have more on this story on KHOU 11 News at 4 p.m.

When appointments resume, vaccines will be available to two different groups:

  • Group 1 — People who have had contact with someone with monkeypox and those who went to a venue where there was a high-risk exposure to the virus, whether skin-to-skin or sexual contact.
  • Group 2 — Those at high risk of getting the virus, including those diagnosed with gonorrhea and early syphilis in the last three months. It also includes people who have attended or worked at a commercial sex venue in the last 21 days. This group also includes those on the HIV prevention medication, known as PrEP.

Harris County Public Health still has some appointments available. 

HCPH has a hotline for monkeypox guidance. Residents who have questions regarding testing, vaccinations and more on monkeypox are encouraged to call 832-927-0707.

RELATED: Here's what you need to know about monkeypox

How does monkeypox spread?

  • The disease, which can cause a serious skin rash, appears to be spreading largely via direct contact with the skin or saliva of an infected person.
  • Monkeypox can spread from person to person through direct contact with the rash, scabs or bodily fluids like saliva.
  • It can also be transmitted with prolonged face-to-face contact via respiratory droplets.  
  • Pregnant women can transmit the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
  • At this time, it's not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids. However, the DSHS says the majority of Texas cases, so far, involve men who've had sex with other men.

Monkeypox symptoms

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills 
  • Exhaustion
  • Rash that looks like pimples or blisters; the rash often appears first on the face and/or inside the mouth and then on other parts of the body.

Anyone who develops a rash should avoid direct contact with other people and contact their health care provider as soon as possible for the next steps.

Click here for more information on monkeypox

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