The monkeypox vaccine is now available at Kodiak Public Health Center

This electron microscope image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions (left) and spherical immature virions (right) obtained from a sample of human skin associated with a 2003 prairie dog outbreak. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The Kodiak Public Health Center now has doses of the monkeypox vaccine and health officials are encouraging people who might be at risk to get the shot. 

Amy Butts is a public health nurse and team lead at the Kodiak Public Health Center. She says the health center received 25 doses of the monkeypox vaccine last week, although they haven’t gotten many calls yet for the shot.

“Honestly the demand has not been high, I’ve been trying to get the word out,” said Butts. “One vial has five doses in it, and once you crack that vial, it’s only good for 8 hours.”

That means that any remaining doses are wasted when she can’t use up an open vial.

Alaska has recorded three cases of the virus so far – all in Anchorage. And there have been more than 18,000 confirmed monkeypox cases across the country.

Alaska’s Department of Health recommends vaccination for close contacts of people with the virus – and for men and transgender people who “have sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners within the past six months.”

Although, Butts said it’s important to clarify that monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection and anyone can contract the virus. 

“Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, skin-to-skin contact,” she said. “So, that could be direct contact with a monkeypox rash, scabs, body fluids from a person with monkeypox.”

She says the virus can also spread by touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces used by someone with monkeypox – and through respiratory droplets. 

Testing is currently available at the Kodiak Public Health Center. Butts says anyone who thinks they need to be tested or is interested in the vaccine can call for an over-the-phone screening and set up an appointment. The health center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and their number is 907-486-3319.

The Kodiak Ambulatory Care Clinic is also awaiting monkeypox test kits and vaccines, and plans to offer both soon; the phone number is 907-486-6188.

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