DES MOINES, IOWA — The Polk County Health Department has 100 monkey pox vaccines and they have administered 12 of them, but not just anyone is able to get the shot. To be eligible for a vaccine you must be a direct close contact with a case or a caregiver of someone who has monkey pox due to limited vaccine availability.
There are six cases in central Iowa according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
An Infectious Disease Specialist said that the approach the county is taking to distribute vaccines is the correct one due to a limited amount of vaccines.
“If we had unlimited access and unlimited supply I think the approach might be different. They might even say that anyone interested in a vaccination could get it, but that is not the case,” said Dr. Ravi Vemuri, an Infectious Disease Specialist at MercyOne Des Moines. “So when that is not the case you have to use the vaccine as effectively as possible.”
Dr. Vemuri added that in high population urban areas, that is where the general public is able to get the vaccine in some cases. But in Iowa, the spread is not a great concern to health officials yet, so the vaccine rollout is targeted.
“Currently in central Iowa the way to use it is to give it to household contacts of confirmed cases, and certain level of exposure to confirmed cases, especially health care workers, extended contacts of confirmed cases,” said Dr. Vemuri.
The average central Iowan “should not lose any sleep over this,” according to Dr. Vemuri. But he and other infectious disease experts in the state are keeping an eye on the spread of monkey pox in case the spread gets worse.
Recent CDC data shows Iowa has nine confirmed monkey pox cases and there are more than 4,500 nationally. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, six of the nine confirmed cases are in central Iowa.