A local pharmacist offers an experimental monkeypox drug as a case balloon

Currently, North Carolina health officials are reporting 122 cases of monkeypox statewide, and Mecklenburg County is at the center of the outbreak.

With nearly half of cases identified locally, some people are eager to get vaccine protection against the disease.

RELATED COVERAGE: Monkeypox cases in Mecklenburg County double in a week

As of Wednesday, more than 3,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered statewide.

With the waiting list growing, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is exploring another drug to prevent the disease.

TPOXX, typically used to treat smallpox, has yet to receive FDA approval to treat monkeypox, but diseases in the same family of viruses, health experts hope TPOXX can help people with weakened immune systems, serious illnesses or other vulnerabilities.

Queens Pharmacy in southeast Charlotte received a shipment of drugs this week, but pharmacists warn it won’t last long.

“We have enough to cover enough treatments for 10 patients now and we will follow up next week to see when their next allocations are,” said Rutvij Parikh, pharmacist at Elizabeth Pharmacy. “We’re going to use it pretty quickly, yes. I have a feeling.”

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Staff at Queens Pharmacy expected to receive a small shipment of TPOXX from the county. Instead, they were pleasantly surprised to receive a second box of pills.

Parikh said he answered questions about monkeypox.

“So far, about seven to eight people have asked about this over the past week,” Parikh said. “Like ‘What’s wrong with that? What are the treatment options?'”

As people continue to sign up for the monkeypox vaccine, federal health officials are changing how the vaccine is administered in hopes of expanding the limited doses.

Instead of putting the vaccine in the fat, it would go between the layers of skin. The change would allow medical professionals to vaccinate up to five people instead of just one.

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Still, executives warn that may not be enough to meet demand.

Mecklenburg County health officials point out that anyone can catch the virus, but it has a disproportionate impact on the LGBTQ community.

Many cases involved men and almost all of them men who have sex with men, which is consistent with findings from other states and countries.

“It’s important to remember that anyone in any group of people can get monkeypox, which is spread primarily through prolonged skin-to-skin contact,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley, in a press release. “Partnering to prioritize the vaccine for those currently most affected by the virus will bring relief to this community and help control the spread of the outbreak.”

(Watch the video below: Monkeypox: what you need to know)