monkey pox virus
Monkeypox virus cell 3D structure. Credit: Corona Borealis Studio via Shutterstock

Connecticut public health officials announced plans to make 800 doses of the monkeypox vaccine available to high-risk residents beginning Monday at 15 sites across the state.

During a televised press conference on Thursday, Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani said that 28 cases of the virus had been recorded in the state. Most cases have involved men who identify as LGBTQ, she said. 

Juthani sought to alleviate fears of contracting the virus through respiratory transmission. She said there had been no known transmission on airplanes on which someone was infected, nor have health care workers contracted while treating patients with the virus. So far, there have been no fatalities associated with the virus, she said.

“What I do want to make clear though is that anybody who has skin-to-skin contact with somebody who has had monkeypox could potentially get monkeypox,” Juthani said. “This is not primarily a respiratory disease. It is one that with prolonged face-to-face contact with somebody is possible, but is primarily transmitted by skin-to-skin.” 

Monkeypox causes a rash and lesions on the skin of people infected. Transmission can occur through contact with the lesions. 

So far, the state has received 1,778 doses of the vaccine and health care providers would be prioritizing patients believed to be at the most risk. Juthani said that meant adult men who have had sex with multiple or anonymous male partners in the last 14 days. 

The vaccines will be administered at community-based clinics, which will be posted to the Connecticut Department of Health’s website on Monday morning, according to a press release. 

Patrick Dunn, executive director of the New Haven Pride Center, urged any person feeling concerned or uncertain whether they may be impacted by the virus to reach out to the Pride Center or the Public Health Department. 

“[S]o that we can not only fight the stigma around this disease but also make sure we don’t come from a place of misinformation because when we come from a place of misinformation, diseases spread,” Dunn said. 

Gov. Ned Lamont said public health officials would be tracing exposures to monkeypox and contacting residents believed to be at risk.

“If you have been in close, personal contact and you are notified in terms of our contact tracing, come and get a vaccine,” Lamont said.