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Thousands on waitlist for monkeypox vaccine in Colorado

Health officials are focusing on distributing monkeypox vaccinations in the Denver metro area, where the majority of community spread is being reported.

DENVER — Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) health officials said monkeypox vaccine supplies are currently very limited and there are thousands currently on the waitlist during an update on Thursday.

They also said COVID-19 cases are declining after peaking over recent months.

Monkeypox

As of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 13,517 confirmed cases nationwide. 

CDPHE said there are 168 confirmed cases in Colorado as of Thursday, and the case rate has been trending upwards.

"We've seen through the month of July a pretty steady increase in cases, and since that time a pretty consistent number of cases being reported on a daily basis," State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said.

Herlihy also said that the data on case counts could be lagging, as it was with COVID.

Scott Bookman, director of the Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response, said the monkeypox vaccination supply from the federal government is currently very limited but is hopeful more will be delivered in the coming weeks and months.

"We are prioritizing that vaccine in the places where we are seeing the largest amount of community spread and where the need is the greatest," Bookman said. "Right now that is basically the Denver metro area, but Dr. Herlihy and her team are evaluating the data every single day, looking where cases are occurring, and we will move vaccine into every community that needs it, as it is available."

Denver Health has identified more than half of the state's confirmed monkeypox cases, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Connie Price said.

> Watch the full update below:

Bookman said there are several thousand people currently on CDPHE's vaccine waitlist, but did mention that count is increased by people signing up in multiple places.

"We are working through [the waitlist], and we are continuing to expand access to providers across the state," Bookman said. 

At the beginning of the outbreak, he said CDPHE was the only provider of vaccines. Now, there are currently 59 monkeypox vaccine providers in Colorado that have distributed 3,546 doses in total.

"Our goal is to continue expanding access through a number of different providers, and making sure that those who need this vaccine most for post-exposure prophylaxis have availability."

More information on testing and vaccination availability can be found on CDPHE's website.

Herlihy also said CDPHE will be launching a dashboard on its website with the latest monkeypox data, similar to the dashboard created for the COVID pandemic.

RELATED: US declares public health emergency over monkeypox outbreak

The federal government declared a public health emergency on Aug. 5 to bolster the response to the monkeypox outbreak.

The announcement freed up money and other resources to fight the virus, which may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body.

On Aug. 9, U.S. health officials authorized a new monkeypox vaccination strategy designed to stretch limited supplies by allowing health professionals to vaccinate up to five people — instead of one — with each vial.

The so-called dose-sparing approach also calls for administering the Jynneos vaccine with an injection just under the skin rather than into deeper tissue — a practice that may rev up the immune system better. Recipients would still get two shots spaced four weeks apart.

The highly unusual step is a stark acknowledgment that the U.S. currently lacks the supplies needed to vaccinate everyone seeking protection from the rapidly spreading virus.

COVID-19

Following a peak in early June, Herlihy said COVID cases in Colorado have steadily declined over the last few weeks.

The current 7.61% positivity rate is also significantly lower than its peak of 13.06% on July 5 during the latest spike, which started in May.

The BA.5 subvariant is omicron, which accounted for nearly 80% of cases in the state as of July 10, and is the dominant strain in the state.

RELATED: Latest COVID-19 numbers: Average daily cases below 1,000 for first time since early May

A total of 77.8% of Colorado's population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 69.9% are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data from the CDPHE.

Statewide, there were 236 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Aug. 16, and there have been an average of 992 new cases of the virus per day over the last seven days.

Hospitalizations are a key metric for health officials since they indicate whether the healthcare system is being overwhelmed by the virus. Since vaccines have become widely available, doctors have said the vast majority of new COVID-19 hospitalizations are people who have not received a shot. 

> See the raw data from CDPHE here.

> Find the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines here. 

RELATED: 'COVID is still here': CDPHE reacts to relaxation of CDC's COVID-19 guidelines

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RELATED: A familiar strategy: Contact tracing for monkeypox

RELATED: Monkeypox patients advised to avoid household pets

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