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Baltimore County surveys high risk residents as monkeypox cases increase

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch
Isaac Smay Baltimore County
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Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch speaks about COVID-19 vaccines during a recent press conference. Now Baltimore County is looking to distribute monkeypox vaccines.

The number of monkeypox cases across Maryland has increased from 87 in late July to 461 cases statewide. To combat the spread and better distribute vaccines to highest risk residents Baltimore County has asked people who are at a high risk for monkeypox to fill out a public health survey. They are using that survey to determine who should get the vaccine they are offering in county health clinics.

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch said they are vaccinating people “who have known contacts to somebody that has an actual diagnosis of monkeypox. We want to vaccinate all of those contacts.”

There have been 461 cases of monkeypox across Maryland, the biggest concentration is in Prince George’s County with 175 cases. There were 36 cases in Baltimore County as of last week.

Monkeypox is a virus that spreads between people through direct contact with skin lesions. Symptoms may include a fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and potentially rashes and lesions on the face and hands. Symptoms appear between seven to 14 days after exposure and most people recover within a month. Individuals who are at highest risk to become infected are men who have sex with men. .

Baltimore County Health Officer Branch said he has not publicized the locations where the monkeypox vaccine is being administered because “obviously I think it can be a little sensitive.”

The Maryland Department of Health was allocated 23,299 doses from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response. As of Aug. 29, more than 14,500 doses of the monkeypox vaccine were shipped to the state health department. Each patient is supposed to get two-doses of the Jynneos vaccine.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County.
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