Casper-Natrona County Health Department offers monkeypox vaccines and testing for high risk populations

Monkeypox MGN
Monkeypox MGN(Matt Damon / Kentucky National Guard via MGN)
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 4:47 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Casper-Natrona County Health Department (CNCHD) in coordination with the Wyoming Department of Health is closely monitoring the evolving cases of Monkeypox within the United States.

Currently, there have not been any confirmed cases of Monkeypox within the state of Wyoming. The CNCHD is one of five locations in Wyoming that currently has vaccines available.

“We will be providing that to people who are interested in the vaccine and eligible for the vaccine here in our community, but then also we will be transferring that vaccine to other communities in our region who also have people that are interested in receiving it,” said CNCHD Public Information Officer Hailey Bloom.

Monkeypox is still a rare disease caused by a viral infection and is spread through close, personal contact. The risk of transmission of Monkeypox to the general public remains very low. However, some groups of individuals may be at a higher risk.

Testing for Mokeypox is available at the Casper-Natrona County Health Department for individuals meeting specific testing criteria. Risk criteria include:

- A new rash that is characteristic of Monkeypox which may have been previously accompanied by fever, fatigue, and muscle aches.

- Reports having contact with a person or persons with a similar appearing rash or with a person who has received a diagnosis of confirmed or probable Monkeypox or had close or intimate in-person contact with persons in a social network experiencing Monkeypox infections.

- Traveled within 21 days of illness onset outside the United States to a country with confirmed cases of Monkeypox (https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/world-map.html) or where Monkeypox Virus is endemic (https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/about.html).

- Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that is an African endemic species or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc…).

“Specifically, what we’re seeing in the United States is that a lot of cases are being spread through sex at this time. Because there is not a lot of transmissions that’s happening outside of close personal contact, that’s kind of why they decided to set the criteria specifically for someone that would have that close personal connection and be at higher risk for illness,” said Bloom.

Individuals or medical providers who believe a patient meets these criteria should call the Casper-Natrona County Health Department at 235-9340 for assessment. Providers calling on the behalf of patients or patients who believe they need testing will be screened and assessed prior to any testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis or without calling in advance.

Vaccinations are available for both post-exposure prophylaxis and pre-exposure prophylaxis. Monkeypox post-exposure vaccination is reserved for anyone meeting the criteria of a confirmed case or exposure to a confirmed case of Monkeypox.

Any medical provider believing a patient meets the criteria for post-exposure vaccination should call the Casper-Natrona County Health Department at 235-9340 for assessment. Pre-exposure vaccination is available in Natrona County for individuals who meet vaccination criteria and are interested in being vaccinated.

The criteria for pre-exposure vaccination include:

- Men who have sex with men and who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the last year.

- Partners of men who have sex with men who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the last year CasperPublicHealth.org.

- Transgender and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with multiple or anonymous sexual partners who are male or male assigned at birth within the past year.

- Sex workers (of any sex) Additionally, they must live or work in Wyoming.

“We just have a very, very small allotment of vaccine that’s available, so the Department of Health is trying to provide that to people are at the highest risk first since we don’t have enough vaccine to provide it to anyone who would be interested,” said Bloom.

Interested and qualified individuals may access the Monkeypox vaccine by calling the Casper-Natrona County Health Department at 235-9340 and indicating their interest.

All pre-exposure vaccinations will be on a first-come, first-served basis for qualified individuals and will be available by appointment only. Pre-exposure vaccination is a two-dose series completed 28 days apart. The vaccine is a live vaccine but it is non-replicating and therefore will not cause contagiousness. All individuals wishing to receive pre-exposure vaccination must be 18 years or older. Anyone seeking pre-exposure vaccination must be at least 4 weeks from their most recent COVID-19 vaccination.

Both pre and post-exposure vaccinations are free, however, there is a small administration charge of $20. If this cost is a barrier, the CNCHD will work with eligible individuals to ensure they still have access to vaccines.

Monkeypox remains a low risk to the public and the Casper-Natrona County Health Department will continue to monitor the situation. Any local Monkeypox updates will be provided to the public via public information releases, CNCHD’s social media accounts, and their website as soon as they are available.

Medical providers seeking more information on Monkeypox identification, testing, or vaccination should contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department. More information on Monkeypox including risks, ways to protect yourself, and vaccination information is available on the CNCHD website at casperpublichealth.org/monkeypox.

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