PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The CDC says there are now about 1,500 cases of rabies in the United States and more are expected. Federal health officials say they are working hard to address the shortage of vaccines.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health said an additional 2,700 doses of the monkey vaccine are arriving Friday at several locations around the state. New Jersey is also receiving new goods.
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Monkey vaccines are also being stored at Bellmawr Regional Health Clinic while Camden County has been designated as a storage and distribution site.
“We’re getting a lot of calls here asking for vaccinations,” said Claudia Whitecraft.
Whitcraft is with the Camden County Health Department and says the vaccine is only given to people who have had close contact with someone who has the virus.
“It is recommended that those involved in the case be vaccinated within four days of being diagnosed,” Whitcraft said.
Monkeypox causes a rash and flu-like symptoms, and the number of cases is increasing according to a new update from the CDC.
“Most of the cases have been people who identify as homosexuals,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
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Although monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, it is spread by long-term contact through airborne droplets, or skin-to-skin contact.
“It just happened that the virus started with men who have sex with men, but it can’t spread,” said the director of public health in Philadelphia, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “It can be transmitted by any type of close contact.”
Bettigole says the virus is spreading rapidly in Philadelphia and the city is trying to get more vaccines, but there is a long line.
“The demand for vaccines in the districts is higher than what we have,” Bettigole said. “And we know this is frustrating.”
The CDC says it is working to get more vaccines distributed quickly and that is increasing testing.
Dr. Stephen Gluckman is an infectious disease specialist at Penn Medicine.
“It is spreading, but it is unlikely that it reflects the problem that COVID represents,” said Dr. Gluckman.
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Monkey vaccination is two doses. On Friday, health officials said they are not recommending that people only get one shot to give more people.