ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis County Department of Public Health has received 1,900 vials of monkeypox vaccine from the state to use within the St. Louis region.

County health officials hope the new supply will help expand eligibility to vaccinate people within the St. Louis area. Vaccines will be distributed to other parts of the state based on which areas see an increased need for vaccine availability.

Right now, county health officials are working to distribute vaccines to health departments and health care providers in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County and Jefferson County. The state is making a push to vaccinate and protect close contacts of monkeypox patients.

In the future, some local clinics could also vaccinate people who believe they might be at high-risk for contracting the disease. Missouri state health officials have launched a survey for those who believe they might be at high-risk and would like to request a vaccine.

According to the St. Louis County website, “Due to the low supply of vaccine currently available, monkeypox vaccination is being recommended for a very limited number of people since the virus is not spreading widely in the St. Louis area.” Based on recent CDC guidance, several people could be vaccinated with each vial. Missouri public health officials plan to incorporate this guidance into vaccination plans.

Monkeypox (clinically referred to as orthopox) is in the same family of viruses as smallpox. Its symptoms are similar, though milder, to smallpox. It is important to know monkeypox can be fatal in rare instances. There are long-established vaccines and treatments for those infected.

According to the CDC, the monkeypox virus was discovered in 1958 in monkeys being kept for research. While the name of the virus is derived from its discovery, the actual source of monkeypox is unknown.

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970, in a child living in a remote rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Monkeypox symptoms will present anywhere between seven and 14 days after exposure. The disease itself lasts two to four weeks.

Symptoms include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle ache, backache, chills, and exhaustion. Pimple or blister-like rashes will appear on an infected person’s face or inside their mouth and eventually spread across the body.

The virus can spread from the time symptoms first appear until the rashes themselves have fully healed.

Monkeypox is spread through person-to-person contact, including (but not limited to):

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids;
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex; and
  • Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids.

    Infected pregnant people can also spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.