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Monkeypox cases increase to 37 in Colorado

With a limited supply of vaccine, state health officials said they're prioritizing first doses to high-risk individuals.

DENVER — Colorado has recorded 29 new monkeypox cases so far this month – an average of more than one per day in July – for a total of 37 cases since the outbreak began, according to the state health department.

There are more than 2,300 cases confirmed in the United States and 15,000 worldwide. This week, U.S. officials said more than 100,000 monkeypox vaccine doses were being sent to states in the next few days, with several million more on order for the months ahead.

For the moment, the vaccine supply is limited, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said Thursday that it will prioritize first doses to as many high-risk individuals as possible. Health officials said that will provide the broadest protection against the spread of monkeypox in Colorado.

> VIDEO BELOW: A look at the Colorado's strategy for monkeypox

RELATED: No, the monkeypox outbreak has not been declared a pandemic

“Given the current outbreak, our goal at this time is to reduce the spread of monkeypox among persons at risk, and to that end, we will use all our doses on hand to vaccinate as many eligible people as we are able,” said Eric France, CDPHE chief medical officer, in a news release.

The JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine is given in a two-dose series, but the first dose offers early protection from monkeypox. The second dose can be given 28 days after the first dose.

If the vaccine is given four days after exposure to the virus, it can help prevent sickness. If it's given two weeks after exposure, it can lessen the severity of the disease, CDPHE said.

Vaccine appointments are available to Coloradans who self-attest to their eligibility through an appointment request form.

To date, Colorado has seen 37 total monkeypox cases, according to CDPHE:

  • May: 2 cases
  • June: 6 cases
  • July: 29 cases

Monkeypox begins with flulike symptoms. A rash or skin bumps develop within one to three days after the onset of fever, often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body.

RELATED: Colorado's monkeypox strategy is different than COVID, but hurdles are similar

The virus spreads primarily from skin-to-skin contact, according to Nicole Comstock with CDPHE.

"Monkeypox right now is in a defined population where we are working with people who are at risk," Comstock said. "That's men who are gay, bisexual, men who have sex with other men, especially if they have anonymous partners or multiple partners in the past 14 days." 

The state said they know that based on global outbreaks. 

"Primarily, because there have been outbreaks in other parts of the world affecting this population," she said. "Initial cases in the West traveled to those areas. It's really just the social networks where it's spreading at this point. Our efforts are on par to control that spread, so it doesn't result in wide community spread."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

RELATED: States getting more monkeypox vaccines soon, US health officials say

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