AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nearly 2,000 people received the monkeypox vaccine in Austin this past weekend at the first mass vaccination clinics organized by several local organizations, with planning underway to hold more in the future. The people who showed up Saturday and Sunday stood in long lines with others wanting to get the shot without an appointment.
CommUnity Care partnered with Austin Public Health, Ascension Seton and Travis County Health and Human Services to administer the JYNNEOS vaccine, which is approved for prevention of monkeypox disease, at the East Austin Health Center. After holding the free, walk-in clinics, these organizations shared they gave out a total of 1,910 vaccine doses to those who met the criteria.
“We’re really excited and really proud of the effort,” Yvonne Camarena, CommUnity Care’s chief operating officer, said Monday. “To be able to actually vaccinate that many individuals in this short period of time is actually a really good effort on our part, and we think we have much more to do, but we believe it’s a really good start.”
Camarena said Austin Public Health provided the vaccine doses used at this two-day clinic. She said the organizations that put on this first event will likely hold others, though there are no details to share yet about times, dates or locations. She directed people to check out the CommUnity Care website to learn about future vaccination clinics when they’re announced.
“We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to assess what will be available in the future,” Camarena said.
Because the vaccine supply remains limited, the people eligible to get the shot right now includes the following:
- If you’ve had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox in the past two weeks.
- If you’ve had multiple sexual partners in recent weeks or attended venues where sex occurs.
- If you identify as a cisgender male or transgender woman and report multiple sexual partners or anonymous sexual partners within the last 21 days.
- If you are currently taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention and have multiple sexual partners.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the last 12 months (including HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis).
Earlier this month, U.S. health officials authorized a plan to stretch the nation’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dose, citing research suggesting the reduced amount is about as effective. The approach also calls for administering the Jynneos vaccine with an injection just under the skin rather than into deeper tissue — a practice that may rev up the immune system better. Recipients would still get two shots spaced four weeks apart.
According to the latest update from the Texas Department of State Health Services shared on Aug. 19, there are now 1,119 monkeypox cases confirmed in Texas. In Travis County alone, Austin Public Health reported 93 cases.
Monkeypox is a disease caused by an infection with the monkeypox virus. Typical symptoms include fever and a rash that may appear as pimples or blisters. It’s spread by close contact with an infected person or by touching clothing or linens that were in contact with the infected person’s rash or body fluids.
Recently Hays County confirmed its first two cases of monkeypox. The Hays County Local Health Department is investigating the cases and working to identify anyone who may have had direct contact with the patients. Additionally, Harris County is looking into a case that’s believed to be the first monkeypox infection in a Texas child.