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HHS receives new vaccine options

The tribe has recently received new vaccine options for monkeypox and Covid-19. (Image via

HOLLYWOOD – The Seminole Tribe’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Department has more vaccine options available for tribal members.

HHS executive director Dr. Vandhana Kiswani-Barley said Aug. 24 that the tribe now has 100 monkeypox vaccines in stock.

“There is a strict criteria about who can get the monkeypox vaccine,” she said. “It includes people who have been exposed, have it, or have high risk sexual activity.”

Kiswani-Barley said those in a high risk category include, but is not exclusive to, men who have sex with men. The vaccine is approved for those 18 and older.

“We have the vaccine in case anyone needs it. Monkeypox usually begins with upper respiratory symptoms and a rash develops within 24 to 48 hours after that,” she said.

Kiswani-Barley said the monkeypox rash could sometimes be confused with an acne bump. She said three tribal members recently had bumps tested for the virus and all three were negative. However, she said it’s always better to be safe and consult a doctor if there’s a concern.

Ten percent of monkeypox cases nationwide are in Florida, she said.

Meanwhile, the tribe’s Covid-19 numbers continue to fluctuate, but Kiswani-Barley said hospitalizations have been rare in recent months.

The tribe has a new primary Covid-19 vaccine option – Novavax – in addition to Pfizer and Moderna. The Novavax vaccine is now approved for those 12 and older. Kiswani-Barley said the tribe would soon receive an updated Pfizer and Moderna booster that is expected to be more protective against the omicron variant.

“[Omicron] is quite a contagious strain,” she said. It’s been that way, but it’s not too severe in general.”

Kiswani-Barley said Covid-19 symptoms still typically present as similar to those of a common cold – most with a sinus-type infection – but that most symptoms are still resolving within five days.

For more information about Covid-19, monkeypox or vaccines, call the HHS hotline at (833) 786-3458. More information is also available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at