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At high risk for monkeypox? Richmond vaccine clinic is taking appointments

on August 17, 2022

Appointments for monkeypox vaccinations at the Richmond Auditorium can now be made online for people at high risk of contracting the disease, Contra Costa Health Services said in a news release Wednesday.

Appointments are required for the clinic on 25th Street and Nevin Avenue, and at one in Concord.

Previously, Health Services required people to fill out a form requesting an appointment. They were then put on a waiting list for the vaccine. But an increase in supply has enabled the county to let residents schedule their own appointments, without delay.

“We know people are eager to get immunized against MPX and adding online scheduling will make access to the vaccine in Contra Costa a lot easier and more convenient,” Dr. Ori Tzvieli, the county health officer, said in the release.

More than 12,600 cases of the contagious disease have been reported across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In California, Los Angeles has recorded the highest number of cases, with more than 800, state Public Health Department data shows. But regionally, the Bay Area has the highest case rate in the state, Health Services said. There have been more than 500 cases in San Francisco and nearly 150 in Alameda County. Contra Costa has counted 41.

No deaths have been reported from monkeypox in the United States since the outbreak started in May. In July, the World Health Organization declared the virus a “public health emergency of international concern.”

Spread through skin-to-skin contact, the disease poses the highest risk for those who have had close contact with other people with the disease. A high number of cases have been reported among gay and bisexual men. They are among those at high risk, as well as sex workers and anyone who has had more than one sexual partner in a two-week span.

Symptoms usually appear within three weeks of exposure, with a signature rash that looks like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. People also may experience fever, chills, head, muscle or back aches, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, and cough, sore throat and congestion. People can be contagious for two to four weeks and should isolate at home.

Monkeypox vaccine supply has increased but is still limited. County Health Services expects to add walk-in service and pop-up clinics in LGBTQ communities when supply increases. Health Services noted that some private medical providers also are offering vaccines.

The CDC is not recommending mass vaccination for the general population. For those at high risk, the CDC suggests getting vaccinated as a preventive measure or within four days of exposure to the virus. Once symptoms appear, the vaccine won’t help, but antiviral treatment is available.

Most people recover at home.

More information is on the Health Services website.

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