Monkeypox vaccine coming to Clallam County

COVID-19 case rates trending downward

COVID-19 cases are down on the North Olympic Peninsula, which is avoiding a national trend due to its high vaccination rates, said Dr. Allison Berry, the health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

“Nationwide, cases and hospitalizations are going down, but deaths are going up,” Berry said Monday.

”Fortunately, we haven’t seen that here. I think it is due to our vaccination rates. We have the same variant, but not the same outcomes.

The vaccination rate for Jefferson County residents 6 months and older is 84 percent, and it’s 77 percent in Clallam County, she said.

Jefferson County added 70 new cases in the past week, to 5,435 total cases from 5,365, for a case rate of 457 per 100,000 population. Thirty people have died from the virus in the county, but no new deaths have been reported, Berry said. There have been three new hospitalizations, she said.

Clallam County cases will be posted one day late because the person who compiles those was out sick Monday, Berry said.

Case rates are a reflection of cases reported during a two-week period. They are computed using a formula based on 100,000 population even for counties that do not have 100,000 people living in them.

Monkeypox cases

Berry said the country has seen 11,000 cases or monkeypox (MPV) while Washington state has reported 265 cases. None have been reported in Clallam or Jefferson counties, she said.

“We are seeing people in Clallam County who have had contact with people who have had it, but not in Jefferson County,” she said.

The first shipment of the MPV vaccine will be arriving in Clallam County this week, and vaccinations will start soon afterward for those who are eligible, Berry said.

MPV is a disease caused by a virus that can cause a painful rash or genital sores. People who get MPV typically recover in two to four weeks. Some people are at higher risk for severe illness, including people with weakened immune systems.

Some people have flu-like symptoms, including fever, aches, or swollen glands. Symptoms begin five to 21 days after exposure.

Anyone who has a known exposure to MPV is eligible for a vaccine. Priority also is being given to gay or bisexual men or other men and transgender people who have sex with men who:

• Have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last three months;

• Have attended a bathhouse, circuit party or group sex venue in the last three months;

• Have had an STI in the last year;

• Belong to a historically marginalized racial minority;

• Have experienced homelessness or incarceration in the last three months.

“MPV is not a high risk for everyone, but it is for some groups. Our priority population is gay men,” Berry said, adding that the spread of MPV is “eerily reminiscent” of the spread of HIV and AIDS in the 1980s.

“We are making a concerted effort to approach this epidemic differently, such as getting treatments out faster,” she said. “It’s our job to get treatment to those groups.”

MPV has a 1 percent fatality rate, so it is not as lethal as AIDS, but it does produce an incredibly painful rash and a 10 percent hospitalization rate, Berry said.

“That’s not something we want people to deal with, so we want to prevent it where we can,” she said.

MPV most often spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, especially during sex. MPV can also spread through respiratory droplets or saliva during prolonged face-to-face contact, such as kissing.

MPV symptoms include an unexplained rash or sores. Images of monkeypox rashes are posted at cdc.gov/monkeypox. If you have had close contact with someone who has monkeypox, call Clallam County Public Health at 360-417-2274.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at [email protected]

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