NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The demand for the monkeypox vaccine is high in Davidson County. At its peak, the department says it was answering nearly 200 calls from people wanting a dose.
“Right now, we are booked out until October,” said Rachel Franklin with the Metro Nashville Public Health Department.
Appointments have been rapidly booking up since the department started offering the vaccine in early August.
“For the first dose, there is one full-time staff member dedicated to that, that’s the appointment-based system. We are averaging about 12 appointments per day, plus we vaccinate those who come to the sexual health clinic for other reasons, that are eligible. So, maybe four to six additional of those,” Franklin explained.
The latest numbers from the department, show a steady increase in the number of monkeypox cases. The latest numbers show that 71 cases have been reported in Davidson County. Of those cases, 22 of them have recovered and are no longer in isolation. The number of cases is up by 19 in the past week.
“The cases do keep increasing. It is concerning because it shows the illness is spreading through our population; however, it is also showing that people are getting tested, more people are aware of the diagnosis, and are being more vigilant about ‘hey something’s going on, I do need to get tested’,” Franklin explained.
The monkeypox outbreak is just another hit health departments are taking after slowly rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic.
| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County
“We knew it was only a matter of time, we didn’t know what it would be or when. We’ve had some comments about COVID PTSD in this for sure, but I will say every emergency that we respond to strengthens us even more for the next time, whether it was our Hepatitis A outbreak in 2018 and then COVID in 2020. Both of those responses have helped us with this monkeypox response,” said Franklin.
The Biden administration has been focused on new strategies to roll out doses of the vaccine country-wide. In the latest press conference, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the White House Deputy Monkeypox Response Coordinator explained, “with supply of the vaccine increasing, I think we have a new opportunity and strategy which is bringing the vaccine to people as opposed to having people find the vaccine.”
Locally, health leaders are looking forward to more supply coming to the state. Right now, the department is limiting doses to those who are eligible according to the CDC and is asking for those who want the vaccine to be “patient. If you really would like this vaccine, much like COVID, let’s wait until the quantity is there for anyone who wants it. Right now, we’re just focused on those folks who are eligible.”
The Metro Nashville Health Department is hoping to partner with community organizations to maximize the number of vaccines they can distribute to an eligible population, in the near future.