Utah monkeypox cases rise to 48, with walk-in clinic Saturday offering 500 vaccine doses

In the last week, 10 more cases of the virus were reported in Salt Lake County.

(Rick Bowmer | AP) A registered nurse prepares a dose of a Monkeypox vaccine at the Salt Lake County Health Department Thursday, July 28, 2022, in Salt Lake City. The health department is holding a walk-in monkeypox vaccination clinic on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.

The number of monkeypox cases identified in the state since May rose to 48 on Friday, the Utah Department of Health and Human Services reported. Those currently most at risk for the virus are eligible for to receive free monkeypox vaccinations at a walk-in vaccination clinic on Saturday — no appointment needed.

The Salt Lake County Heath Department will provide about 500 doses of the monkeypox vaccine at the walk-in vaccination clinic on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Salt Lake Public Health Center, located at 610 S. 200 East.

Only those who meet the following criteria are eligible for the vaccine, according to the county health department:

  • Men (cisgender or transgender) who have sex with men.

  • Men who are not in monogamous, exclusive relationships with one other person.

  • Men who do not have any symptoms of monkeypox.

Anyone who does not meet the above eligibility criteria will be turned away, so the county can focus vaccinations on those currently most at risk.

As of Friday, 1,290 people in Utah had received their first dose of the monkeypox vaccine, according to state health officials. The Salt Lake County Health Department made about 200 doses available to people via appointment on Tuesday, which were administered this week. It’s unclear when Utah may receive more vaccine doses beyond those that will be available at the clinic this weekend.

Monkeypox is currently circulating within the men who have sex with men (MSM) community, a group that includes people who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary, though anyone can be infected by the virus.

It is not a sexually transmitted disease, though it can be spread through sexual contact, and condoms do not protect people from the virus, health officials advise. It can also be spread on linens, clothing and other surfaces, as well as through direct skin-to-skin contact with a monkeypox rash.

Those experiencing symptoms should immediately isolate and tell their close contacts and partners to keep an eye out for symptoms, officials advise. Contact your local health department, your health care provider or visit a clinic near you. Then, get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible.

Monkeypox in Utah and nationwide

Over the last week, 16 more confirmed or probable monkeypox cases were reported in Utah. There were ten more cases reported in Salt Lake County, for a total of 35 since the virus first appeared in the state.

Since May, there have been six total cases reported in Utah County, two cases in Davis County and three cases in Weber and Morgan Counties.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared monkeypox a public health emergency. As of Friday, there have been 7,102 cases of monkeypox reported nationwide.

This decision empowers the Biden-Harris administration to take more significant action to prevent the spread of the disease nationwide. A public health emergency can allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary to access medical supplies and equipment through contracts and bolster emergency medical response in hospitals across the country.

The most obvious symptom of monkeypox is a rash that can look similar to pimples or blisters on the skin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Other symptoms of monkeypox can include headache, fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, chills and respiratory symptoms.

The virus is rarely fatal, with 99% of those infected recovering in two to four weeks, although some of those infected have described the pain resulting from monkeypox as “excruciating,” according to a New York Times report.

Second doses of the vaccine, which cannot be administered until at least 28 days after receiving a first dose, will not be available until mid-August, Utah officials have said.