WILLIAMSBURG — The Virginia Department of Health selected the Williamsburg Drug Company to carry and help distribute the mpox vaccine JYNNEOS.
Mpox (formerly known as Monkeypox) is a type of pox virus most known for the pimple-like pustules that form on the skin, particularly around the genitals, hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Other symptoms can include, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and backache, headache, and respiratory symptoms (including sore throat, nasal congestion or cough.)
The virus is spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, contact with contaminated clothes or linen, or contact with respiratory secretions from an infected individual, according to the CDC, and can be spread by anyone.
The current outbreak began earlier this year. As of Dec. 7, the number of cases in the CDC reports is 29,711 nationwide, 559 in Virginia and 82,199 globally.
In response, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) sent out surveys for interested pharmacies and hosted a webinar to gauge interest in supplying the vaccine to those on the Virginia peninsula. Williamsburg Drug Company was chosen as the only site between Richmond and Virginia Beach due to the success the pharmacy had distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We organized to rent an RV and began mobile vaccine clinics up and down the peninsula, at one point we were administering four vaccines every minute at our mobile clinics,” Adam Brown, the lead pharmacy technician at Williamsburg Drug Company.
Brown has been a pharmacy technician for almost 20 years, starting at an independent pharmacy in New York, and working simultaneously in a hospital pharmacy. He was also an anesthesia technician at a trauma hospital in New York before moving his family to Japan for four years.
Brown and his family returned to the United States just before COVID hit. When the pandemic struck, he took the lead to develop the Williamsburg Drug Company point of care testing for COVID, his experience working in the OR influencing his plan.
After vaccines were announced, Brown worked closely with VDH to get the team set up to offer COVID vaccines. He also became certified to administer vaccines.
“Because of the success of our vaccination program, we received a proclamation from York County for our outreach and mobile clinics. We received letters from Rep. Elaine Luria as well as Senator Mark Warner thanking us for our continued efforts,” Brown continued. “Because we were out in force, offering vaccines to under-served communities and reaching sites where access to the vaccine was minimal, VDH viewed us as a strong vaccination partner.”
As Brown understands the current plan, Williamsburg Drug Company must submit a forecasted demand for vaccines and order from VDH. From there, the program is designed to expand access with pharmacy partners across Virginia.
The vaccine is provided free of charge to patients at the moment. Williamsburg Drug Company will attempt to bill an insurance company if the patient has insurance, but there is no cost for any person with or without insurance.
“Any person(s) who wish to receive the vaccine (should) not be afraid to reach out with any questions or concerns,” Brown stressed. “We are here to provide this vaccine to those who may be in situations where there is a possibility of contracting mpox. We have been and will continue to provide these services to our community. We are extremely humbled and proud to be selected to offer the mpox vaccine.”
Those seeking more information should visit the CDC’s page covering the mpox.
Scheduling an appointment with Williamsburg Drug Company can be done online or by calling either of Williamsburg Drug Company’s locations. Supplies will be limited until demand increases.