RHHD ramping up prevention efforts against monkeypox, limited vaccines on hand

In a virtual press conference Thursday, The Richmond-Henrico Health District says the threat of the monkeypox virus remains low but they’re still ramping preven
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 7:33 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 7:49 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In a virtual press conference Thursday, The Richmond-Henrico Health District says the threat of the monkeypox virus remains low, but they’re still ramping prevention measures.

The district previously started a monkeypox task force. This week, the district announced they would have leaders on the ground in communities educating groups who are at high-risk for the virus.

According to the CDC, monkeypox can spread from direct contact with lesions on the skin, respiratory secretions and contaminated surfaces.

“It can get onto materials. How long it can stay on those is still being determined. The best practice is to clean those materials frequently,” Marko Predic, associate vice president of infection prevention with Capital Division HCA, said.

While the virus isn’t unique to one community, most cases have been seen in gay or bisexual men.

“Right now, we are working with the networks that I have in sex work communities or the LGBTQ community to get individuals vaccinated who may be in those higher risk groups,” Wyatt Johnson said.

Johnson is the director for PreP, a Richmond city program focusing on HIV prevention. Having a pulse on vulnerable communities, Johnson is now leading outreach efforts for monkeypox prevention with the Richmond-Henrico Health District.

“We want people to be able to keep themselves and others safe,” Johnson said. “So, we do want to also focus really on sharing that information on how to identify symptoms, what monkeypox is, how it’s transmitted,” Johnson added.

Another focus is getting shots into arms, but demand outweighs the supply. According to Dr. Elaine Perry with RHHD, 2,900 monkeypox vaccine interest forms have been submitted.

But only a little over 200 doses are on hand right now.

“Even if someone has been vaccinated, we really do still recommend that people follow monkeypox prevention tips,” Dr. Perry said.

The CDC recommends frequent handwashing with soap and water, avoiding close contact with someone infected and avoiding contaminated surfaces.

While pressing state health leaders to make the vaccine more widely available, RHHD also focuses on contact tracing to help mitigate the spread.

If you are interested in learning more about the virus and prevention, visit the RHHD website.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

Send it to 12 here.

Want NBC12’s top stories in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.