SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Three health facilities in Shreveport have started administering monkeypox vaccines after health experts say it is spreading rapidly.
The Louisiana Department of Health says 69 people in the state have been infected with monkeypox, and two are here in Northwest Louisiana.
Caddo Parish received 40 doses of the vaccine. LSU Health received 18 of those doses. The Philadelphia Center and the Caddo Health Unit are also administering monkeypox vaccines.
LSU Health Shreveport COVID-19 Strike Team Program Coordinator Shelly Raley says ideally, someone should get the vaccine within four days of exposure. Those needing the vaccine should get one between four and 14 days. She says LSU Health administered two vaccine shots Thursday at the old Chevyland parking lot.
Raley says gay, bisexual, transgender persons and non-binary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men are amongst the highest risk for monkeypox infections. They would be the first to take the vaccine since supplies are limited.
Louisiana Department of Health Region 7’s Medical Director, Dr. Martha Whyte, says in reality, just about anyone can get monkeypox. She says many cases started that way, but those are not the only demographics affected. Monkeypox can spread by all sorts of contact, including bedding.
“Kissing; cuddling; sharing foods; sharing drinks utensils, that kind of thing,” says Whyte, adding monkeypox isn’t a sexually transmitted disease.
“It doesn’t mean because you’re part of that demographics that you are causing this, and it also doesn’t mean because you’re not in that demographics that you can’t catch it and you can’t spread it,” she says.
Raley says monkeypox will spread rapidly in Louisiana based on how it’s already spreading in other parts of the U.S. She says they’re doing their best to make the vaccines available.
The Biden administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency on Thursday afternoon. More than 6,600 probable or confirmed monkeypox cases have been reported in the U.S in the past two and a half months alone.
Most people with monkeypox will recover within two to four weeks. However, the disease can be serious. Those most at risk of complications are people with compromised immune systems. So far, there haven’t been any cases of confirmed deaths from monkeypox in the U.S.