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caption: This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.
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This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.
Credit: Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File

Monkeypox vaccines are on the way to Washington state

Washington state is slated to receive a shipment of monkeypox vaccines from the federal government as community spread of the disease increases.

So far, 15 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox have been discovered in Washington state.

The state Department of Health says it has been alloted enough of the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine to immunize 398 Washingtonians. Enough doses for 272 people have already been designated for jurisdictions with known cases and close contacts, the Department of Health said in a statement Friday.

The vaccine allotment is part of a federal, multiphase effort to distribute more than one million doses across the U.S. in the coming months.

In May, a case of monkeypox was discovered in a King County patient who recently traveled to an area where the virus was spreading. But several new cases have popped up across the state among people with no recent travel history, indicating that monkeypox is spreading within the community. All but one of the 15 known cases in Washington are among King County residents.

Despite the increasing spread, health officials say there’s no need to panic.

“The risk to the public is low at this time. Transmission generally requires close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has symptoms of the disease,” Dr. Scott Lindquist, a state epidemiologist, said in a statement. “For people who have had recent contact with someone who tested positive for monkeypox, the vaccine can reduce the chance of developing a monkeypox infection.”

Signs of a monkeypox infection include flu-like symptoms, rashes, and swollen lymph nodes. An infected person may also find sores on or around their genitals, or experience rectal pain.

While monkeypox can spread through respiratory secretions, transmission this way usually requires sustained, face-to-face contact or kissing. Anyone can contract monkeypox, but health officials say that men who have sex with other men are at an increased risk of infection. Contact with items, such as clothing, that have touched the bodily secretions or rashes of an infected person can also spread the virus. Additionally, monkeypox can be contracted through contact with an infected animal or animal products.