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White House announces roll out of monkeypox vaccine

Doctors suggest anyone who tests positive or is exposed to get the shot.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A push to stop monkeypox from spreading around the world is growing.

The virus reportedly spreads through close contact with someone who is infected, but this current outbreak has primarily been transmitted sexually. It's rare to see cases in the U.S., but this year they're increasing. 

"There are over 4,000 cases that have been reported worldwide," Epidemiologist Dr. Jill Roberts with USF Health said.

The first case of monkeypox in the Tampa Bay region reported by the Florida Department of Health was in Pinellas county and the person infected is in isolation at home and recovering.

No deaths have been reported, but monkeypox continues to hit the LGBTQ+ community. 

Doctors say the virus primarily affects gay men and anyone who comes in close contact with a positive case.

"I think the reason that monkeypox is getting a lot of attention right now, especially in Florida is due to Pride month. The events may have actually led to a little more spread of monkeypox," Roberts said.

Florida's Department of Health has reported 27 cases so far, two of them in Pinellas and Polk counties.

"I think it's really important that the vaccines be made available, but one thing we have to concentrate on is they are nowhere near available to the extent that COVID-19 vaccines were. The dosage should primarily go to the individuals at the highest risk," Roberts said.

56,000 doses of the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine will be shipped out immediately. 

While vaccines are set to be rolled out and testing increased, doctors say it's unlikely the outbreak will lead to a worldwide pandemic. 

"We don't want to be having a conversation where we've actually had fatal cases of monkeypox. It is not going to cause a worldwide huge pandemic like other diseases, but left unchecked, it could get worse and worse," Roberts said.

Florida should be one of the first states to receive doses of the monkeypox vaccine because of its case numbers. 

While this outbreak is primarily spreading among men, it can be passed on to anybody with enough close contact. Doctors suggest anyone who tests positive or is exposed should get the shot.

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