Utah monkeypox case count hits 71; more vaccine doses expected next week

Last week, the state reported 48 cases.

(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. As of Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, there have been 71 cases of monkeypox reported in Utah.

The number of monkeypox cases identified in the state since May rose to 71 on Friday, the Utah Department of Health and Human Services reported. That’s 23 more cases identified over the last week.

There were 16 more monkeypox cases reported in Salt Lake County since last week, for a total of 51 since the virus first appeared in the state.

Since May, there have been nine total cases reported in Utah County, five cases in Davis County and five cases in Weber and Morgan Counties. There also has been one case of monkeypox identified in Summit County, which previously had not reported any cases.

State officials reported that 2,352 people in Utah have received their first dose of the monkeypox vaccine as of Friday. To date, just over 2,000 of those doses have been administered in Salt Lake County.

New vaccine shipment expected next week

The state will receive another shipment of monkeypox vaccines this weekend. Salt Lake County will likely receive doses on Monday, said Nicholas Rupp, a spokesperson for the county health department. Appointments will likely open up next week.

Once available, vaccine appointments can be made through the county health department’s website. Only those who meet the following criteria are currently eligible for vaccine doses, according to the Salt Lake 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.

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 considered a threat to the general public at this time, Rupp emphasized.

The virus is not a sexually transmitted disease, though it can be spread through sexual contact, and condoms do not protect people from monkeypox, health officials advise. It also can 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 and able.

FDA directive quintuples amount of doses available

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved an emergency use authorization of JYNNEOS, the monkeypox vaccine distributed in Utah, which changed how doses can be administered.

Previously, health care providers administered vaccine doses beneath the skin, or subcutaneously. Now, they can administer one-fifth of the usual vaccine dose between the layers of the skin, or intradermally.

Early research has indicated that — for an illness that exhibits symptoms on the surface of the skin, like monkeypox — lower-dose intradermal vaccinations are just as effective as higher doses administered further subcutaneously, Rupp explained.

This emergency use authorization will quintuple the number of doses available, Rupp said.

Two doses of the vaccine received at least 28 days apart will still be needed. But the Utah Department of Health and Human Services has decided to postpone second doses for most people to allow as many people as possible to receive a first dose, following many other health care providers across the country.

The first dose of the monkeypox vaccine still provides robust protection against the virus, Rupp said. The second dose strengthens the longevity of that protection, but it can be given months after the first injection.