DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - With growing concerns that the monkeypox outbreak could turn into another pandemic, local health offices have been flooded with requests for the monkeypox vaccine.
On Friday, the DeKalb County Board of Health hosted what it called a "mass vaccine clinic" at the North DeKalb Health Center. Health officials said all 200 appointments were booked within four minutes.
"We realize there is a tremendous demand for the monkeypox vaccine," said Eric Nickens, spokesperson for the county board of health. "Unfortunately there is a limited supply."
Scott Golden of East Atlanta Village was one of the lucky ones to get jabbed at the event.
"Pretty difficult getting an appointment," he said. "Kind of like the hunger games out there."
Nickens said even their waitlist has a waitlist.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox, and how is it spread?
Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body. Unlike COVID-19, monkeypox spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact.
The disease is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals. It does not usually spread easily among people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been just 330 cases here in Georgia.
A majority of the cases worldwide have been among men who have sex with men, however, doctors with the World Health Organization say the virus does not discriminate and anyone is susceptible.
Digitally-colorized electron microscopic (EM) image depicting a monkeypox virion (virus particle),(Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
"[The risk can be lowered] by reconsidering sex with new partners and exchanging contact details with any new partners," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO.
Golden said he’d rather go through the trouble of getting the vaccine, which requires two doses, as opposed to suffering through another pandemic.
"It seems like it’s going to become a problem very quickly so I think that containing a fast should be a higher priority for everyone," he said.
The federal government has set aside about 34,000 doses for the state of Georgia, so more should be on the way.
"As soon as we can get some more vaccines will be opening up more vaccine clinic availability," Nickens said.
Vaccines are in limited supply or unavailable in most places and health officials say the best strategy is to follow updates to your local health department's website and social media channels.
Scott Golden of East Atlanta Village was one of the lucky ones to receive a monkeypox vaccine during an event Friday in DeKalb County (FOX 5 Atlanta).
Where to find monkeypox vaccines in metro Atlanta
Here is how other metro Atlanta health departments have distributed monkeypox vaccines to patients:
The Clayton County Health District has not provided specific information on monkeypox vaccine availability but said the Georgia DPH is prioritizing Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb and Clayton counties.
Cobb, Douglas counties
The health department has an online portal for appointments and some immunizations, but you may have to call 770-514-2300.
The Fulton County Department of Health currently doesn't offer a way to make an appointment for a monkeypox vaccine online.
The county and the Public Works Department are collecting wastewater samples at one of Fulton County’s Wastewater Treatment Plants and Emory University is testing the wastewater for signs of the COVID-19 and monkeypox viruses.
Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale counties
Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale Public Health is asking the public to monitor the health department's website for updates on vaccines.