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Cuyahoga County health officials give update on monkeypox vaccine rollout, latest on COVID-19 response

According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, there are 133 cases of monkeypox in Ohio. 61 of those are in the county.

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and members of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health held a briefing on Wednesday with the latest on the response to both monkeypox and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budish was joined by the following experts during the news conference, which we streamed below:

  • City of Cleveland Department of Public Health Director Dr. David Margolius
  • County Board of Health Commissioner Dr. Roderick Harris 
  • County Board of Health Medical Director Dr. Prakash Ganesh, MD, MPH

Update on monkeypox

According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, there are 133 cases of monkeypox in Ohio, 61 of those are in the county. Cases have been seen in patients ranging in age from 19 to 50 years old.

"We are making sure we are strategically thinking about where how we get these vaccines to where they belong and also that we have enough distributed on both sides of town and that we are giving vaccines to the city of Cleveland," said Dr. Harris. 

The city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have begun vaccinating those who are most at high risk for monkeypox. The rollout is focusing on the LGBTQ+ community in addition to those who are immunocompromised, sex workers, or those who have had multiple sex partners over the past three weeks.  

RELATED: Cleveland Department of Public Health begins monkeypox vaccine distribution: How to get your vaccine

The county is implementing its vaccination strategy based on the Ohio Department of Health's tiered system:

  • Tier 1 - People at risk for occupational exposure (i.e. lab personnel with high exposure risk) and individuals identified as close contacts or direct exposures.
  • Tier 2 - Attendees at events/venues linked to known monkeypox transmission.
  • Tier 3 - Individuals likely to have prolonged intimate contact that would put them at higher risk of being exposed.
  • Tier 4 - Nationally or locally identified groups with high risk of exposure.

"We are focusing on Tier 3 throughout the county as well as our hospital partners, our community partners. Tier 3 includes people of any sexual orientation that are at high risk of contracting monkeypox," said Dr. Ganesh. 

The Cleveland Department of Public Health will have its next vaccination clinic on Friday at 1313 East 26th Street from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"We're out there, we're giving vaccines, and we plan to continue doing that as supply increases," Dr. Margolius added.

Update on COVID-19 

The briefing came as Cuyahoga County has remained at the highest COVID level for several weeks, based on updated weekly data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means the CDC is urging residents to wear a mask while in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status.

County Board of Health Commissioner Dr. Harris reminded the public of the following CDC recommendations: 

  • Wearing masks indoors when in a CDC 'high' community level 
  • Testing for COVID-19 if you are high risk or if you are having symptoms
  • Staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters

As kids head back to the classrooms, Dr. Margolius noted that they are safe at school. 

"I just want to reassure families and kids and the community that school is a safe place to be with any of the emerging infectious diseases that we are talking about here today. Education is public health," said Dr. Margolius. 

MORE HEALTH HEADLINES: 

Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous COVID vaccine story on Aug. 23, 2022.

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