GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As monkeypox continues to spread, state health authorities are encouraging schools and colleges to prepare for potential campus outbreaks.
Though the risk of transmission is low, they say it’s better to be prepared than not.
“Colleges and universities will be responsible for educating their community and making information available at places like campus health clinics,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian said.
Bagdasarian added that schools haven’t received any specific guidance on how to operate if there is an outbreak on campus though the state is working with colleges and universities, local health departments and communities at risk.
“As we monitor the data and see where the trends are going, we will assess what that guidance needs to be,” Ottawa Department of Public Health spokesperson Alison Clark said.
Grand Valley State University has updated its website to connect students to resources. The university plans to maintain regular contact with county health authorities to continually assess the spread of monkeypox.
“The university will be sharing information related to symptoms and prevention with our campus community. The campus health center will be prepared for seeing suspected cases,” the university wrote in a statement. “Campus health staff will continue to post resources on our campus health home page.”
Vaccines are available at health departments across the state, though supply is limited. If you want to get your child vaccinated before heading off to college, Bagdasarian said that won’t be possible. The shots are only available for someone who has been in direct contact with someone who has monkeypox or has been in a setting where transmission has occurred. The state is working to get more vaccines as cases rise.
“If they fall into those higher risk groups, they can receive vaccines through health departments or directly through a college clinic. We are still working on the logistics of how that would take place,” Bagdasarian said.
Monkeypox is vastly different from coronavirus and health officials say education is key in preventing the spread and combating fear.
“It’s not transmitted the same way COVID is. It’s transmitted through direct contact skin-to-skin contact with somebody who has open legions. There’s some potential spread through saliva and through indirect contact of inanimate objects like bedsheets,” Kent County Health Department Program Supervisor for Communicable Diseases Kathy Armstrong said. “It is a very low risk for the population in general.”
To learn more about monkeypox, visit the MDHHS website.