The worldwide monkeypox outbreak continues to spread across the country, and Georgia ranks fifth in total cases. The latest tally from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was just over 1,000 cases in the state.
In metro Atlanta — which represents a majority of the state’s cases — testing and vaccines for monkeypox have been hard to come by.
Every county in the state has vaccines available, but they’re limited to men who have sex with men and who have had more than two partners in the past 14 days. In metro Atlanta’s largest counties, time slots on local health department websites get booked in a matter of minutes because of limited vaccine availability.
Recently, the Georgia Department of Public Health created a centralized website where you can make appointments. Vaccine seekers can also schedule appointments by calling DPH’s Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line at (888) 457-0186.
Here’s how the major metro counties are responding to the outbreak:
Cobb and Douglas counties are offering monkeypox testing by appointment only at Marietta, Acworth-Kennesaw, and Smyrna public health centers. The Cobb-Douglas monkeypox response website suggests calling (770) 514-2300 to seek a test. Also, any Wellstar Urgent Care based in Cobb County will also test you. Monkeypox vaccinations are also available at the Marietta Public Health Center.
Like other health departments, vaccinations have been limited and appointments in Cobb County for vaccines have been going fast. A spokesperson for the Cobb and Douglas Health Department said appointments are currently full, but new appointments will be added on a rolling basis.
The Cobb and Douglas’ health district has distributed 627 monkeypox vaccines as of Wednesday, and Valerie Crow, a district spokesperson, said appointments will be scheduled as vaccine availability increases.
In DeKalb County, local officials recommend you call your primary care doctor. A spokesperson for the county’s Board of Health told Capital B Atlanta that if you don’t have a primary physician, you can call the health department at (404) 294-3700, but testing and vaccines are limited.
There is also testing priority given for patients living with HIV, which accounts for 67% of monkeypox cases, according to DPH. When you call the Board of Health, let them know whether you’re living with HIV. There is certain treatment and priority that will be given to you by the department’s Early Care Clinic.
As far as education goes, a spokesperson told Capital B Atlanta that a town hall on monkeypox is in the works, but hasn’t been finalized. On trend with state demographics, 74% of monkeypox cases in DeKalb have been among Black people, and the vast majority of those are among men.
According to a presentation to the DeKalb Board of Commissioners, the county has distributed 846 vaccines so far.
Gwinnett County is also recommending that patients who suspect they have monkeypox reach out to their primary care physician before inquiring at the public health department for testing. According to Chad Wasdin, a spokesperson for the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments, monkeypox testing is available at all of their clinics, except for Buford health center and the environmental health offices. To inquire about monkeypox testing, call the GNR Health Department at (770) 339-4260
As far as vaccines, Wasdin says that Gwinnett has distributed close to 4,000 vaccines at their distribution events, and has partnered with Positive Impact Health Centers to ensure equitable distribution. He also said vaccines in Gwinnett are typically distributed on Wednesdays and Fridays. The district is hoping to expand their efforts and more vaccines become available.
Fulton County Board of Health was among the first in the state to begin handing out vaccines for monkeypox. The held a town hall in July hosted in partnership with the Atlanta Pride Committee to discuss the impact of the outbreak on the LGBTQ+ community, best safety practices, and vaccine availability.
A spokesperson for the department said monkeypox testing is available at its main offices at 10 Park Place, and vaccine appointments will open as supply is made available. Like other counties, Fulton is following recommendations from the CDC that limit monkeypox vaccine eligibility to men who have sex with men and who have also had multiple partners, or confirmed close contacts of those with monkeypox.
The Clayton County Health Department began offering testing for monkeypox on Aug. 15. The county health department locations do not have general vaccine availability, but will make appointments available for booking as more supplies comes in. County officials have asked that residents track the department’s website and social media accounts for updates on appointment availability. Capital B Atlanta reached out to CCHD for more details on its monkeypox response efforts, but has not received a response.