WILTON MANORS, FLA. (WSVN) - Health officials in South Florida are taking action to prevent the spread of monkeypox, as Broward County leads the state in the number of confirmed cases.

7News cameras captured patients walking up to the Hagen Park Community Center, Saturday afternoon. The monkeypox vaccine was administered for free at this location on Friday and Saturday by appointment only. Appointment slots filled up quickly.

“It’s in our community, and I want to protect myself,” said vaccine recipient Dean Pasko.

Speaking with 7News on Saturday, Dr. Ulyee Choe, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, discussed the people who are at higher risk of contracting the virus.

“Most cases have been in men who have sex with men; anyone that has been in close contact with an infected individual is susceptible,” he said.

As monkeypox cases continue to spread across the globe, South Florida has reported the most cases in the state.

In just the month of July, FDOH officials reported nearly 130 cases in Broward County alone.

The site at Hagen Park Community Center is one of several that have been popping up in Broward and Miami-Dade counties in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus before cases rapidly rise.

Experts said the vaccines are being shipped to the areas with the highest risk of infection.

“We are focusing on the areas, as well as high-risk individuals, with more than half the allotment being sent to counties with the highest active cases of monkeypox,” said Choe.

To be fully immunized, patients must be vaccinated with two doses administered 28 days apart.

“Testing is now widely available. That was not the case early on with this outbreak in May. A lot of the private and commercial labs have now had the capacity to test for monkeypox,” said Choe. “However, it’s important to know, with these additional testing capabilities, we may and do expect to see more cases.”​

Patients who spoke with 7News said they are thankful for the early response. They said they learned from their experience during the coronavirus pandemic not to wait if the opportunity arises to receive the monkeypox vaccine.

“As a girl that was giving me my injection said to me, if it wasn’t serious, we wouldn’t be here, sitting here doing what we’re doing now,” said patient John Buigott, “so that’s pretty – tells you all.”

For more information on how to make an appointment to receive the monkeypox vaccine in Broward County, click here. For Miami-Dade County, click here.

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