Kenai Public Health now has doses of monkeypox vaccine
The Kenai Public Health Center now has doses of the monkeypox vaccine and is encouraging people who might be at-risk to get the shot
Monkeypox is a viral disease that spreads from close, often skin-to-skin contact. It’s seeing an outbreak globally, including 15,900 reported cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Tuesday, there were only three reported cases in Alaska. And there haven’t been any reported cases on the Kenai Peninsula yet.
Kenai Public Health Nurse Practitioner Chris Kilby said they want to keep it that way.
"We do have the vaccine available now throughout the state at all of our public health centers," she said.
The State of Alaska is recommending vaccination both for close contacts of people with the virus, as well as men and transgender people who “have sex with men AND have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners within the past six months.”
Most of the cases reported in the U.S. so far have been among gay and bisexual men.
But the virus can impact anyone regardless of sexual orientation and is not a sexually transmitted disease. Kilby said it's important to note that anyone can get infected.
"Even though we may be seeing it in certain populations, we do know that the infection spreads from one person to another by touch," she said. "And that is the far more critical thing."
Kenai Public Health is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They’ll be scheduling people by appointment if they determine they are “at-risk.” You can make an appointment by calling the center at 907-335-3400.
The JYNNEOS vaccine is given in two doses. The second dose is given four weeks after the first. It contains a weakened version of the virus related to monkeypox and smallpox.
Meanwhile, Kilby said people worried they might already have monkeypox can get screened and tested at their local public health center or with their primary care provider. Symptoms of monkeypox include rashes or lesions, as well as flu-like symptoms, like fever and muscle aches.
Those who have symptoms or have tested positive for monkeypox should isolate to avoid spreading it.
"Unlike COVID — where many people are over it in a matter of days and don’t have to do prolonged isolation — we know that with monkeypox, once you have the rash and the sores, you remain infectious until they’re completely healed," Kilby said. "And that can take a couple weeks."
The state Division of Public Health keeps an updated list of monkeypox resources here.