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DeKalb Health Board releases local monkeypox data

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DeKalb Health Board releases local monkeypox data

A person receives the monkeypox vaccine during a mass vaccination clinic at the DeKalb County Board of Health North DeKalb Health Center in Chamblee on Friday, August 5, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb Board of Health on Aug. 16 released local monkeypox data.

The county has 187 reported cases as of Aug. 15. That’s about 22 percent of all cases in Georgia, which ranks fourth in the nation for monkeypox cases. Georgia has reported 851 cases.

DeKalb’s data reflects statewide trends, with 74% of cases reported by Black or African American residents. The overwhelming majority of cases countywide – 99.5% – are men. The highest case count occurs among residents aged 25 to 34.

This is the first time the county has shared local data. Previously, the DeKalb Board of Health declined to release it.

District Health Director Dr. Sandra J. Valenciano presented the data during an Aug. 16 DeKalb County Commission meeting. She said the county so far has administered more than 1,000 monkeypox vaccines.

“We’ve been hard at work in the monkeypox response,” Dr. Valenciano said. “Our epidemiology team has been reaching out to all reported cases. In addition, the epidemiology team has been conducting contact tracing, making sure individuals are monitored 21 days after exposure.”

To see her full presentation, click here.

The county also offers mass vaccination events, but is hindered in its response by limited supplies of the vaccine.

The state Department of Public Health recently announced a scheduling system for monkeypox vaccine appointments.

To schedule a monkeypox vaccine visit dph.ga.gov/monkeypox and click on the Learn More tab under “Find a Vaccine and Register for an Appointment,” a press release from the state says. According to the press release, you may also call the Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line at (888) 457-0186.

“The scheduling tool allows you to choose a first or second dose of Jynneos™ monkeypox vaccine from a dropdown menu. Because monkeypox vaccine supply remains limited, you will be asked to answer a series of questions that help DPH prioritize vaccine to individuals who may have been exposed to monkeypox,” the press release from the state says. “The questions follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for administering monkeypox vaccine.”

Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson asked why the disease appears to overwhelmingly affect Black men.

“Why is the rate so high for Blacks and is any education directed towards the Black community on monkeypox because this is the first I’ve heard that the percentage is so high,” the commissioner said.

Dr. Valenciano said the county’s data reflect statewide trends.

“That is because it is currently the networks the virus is spreading in,” she said. “We are focusing on that community and working with our community-based partners and organizations to make sure that individuals from this community who are potentially being exposed or who have tested positive for monkeypox have access to the vaccine.”

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