Federal health officials announced Tuesday that clinics across the country will begin vaccinating anyone who may be exposed to the virus against monkeypox.
Until now, only people with known exposure were vaccinated.
States will receive a dose of a safe and new monkeypox vaccine called Jynneos from federal stocks, based on the number of cases and the proportion of the state’s population at risk of serious disease, officials said in a news briefing.
State health authorities may request the supply of an older vaccine developed for smallpox, which is also thought to provide protection against monkeypox.
The Department of Health and Human Services will immediately provide 56,000 doses of the Genius vaccine and an additional 240,000 doses in the coming weeks. A further 750,000 doses are expected to be available in the summer and a total of 1.6 million doses will be available by the end of this year.
“There are some limitations to the current supply of this vaccine, and for this reason the administration’s current vaccine strategy prioritizes making it available to those who need it most urgently,” said Dr. Rochelle Walenski, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The old smallpox vaccine, called ACAM2000, is associated with severe side effects, including death in immunocompromised, pregnant women, and older adults.
The new vaccination plan drew sharp criticism from experts, who said the campaign was too short and slow to take effect. The longer it takes for the monkeypox to take hold, the more likely it is that the virus will enter the United States, especially among men who have sex with men, researchers have warned.
“Many of us are concerned that the window is closing for us to eradicate monkeypox,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and public health editor at Kaiser Health News.
“If we don’t start vaccinating more quickly and comprehensively, it will be a very difficult time for us to contain it,” he said. Ideally, monkeypox tests and vaccines could be given at LGBTQ Pride events across the country to reach men at high risk of contracting the virus, Dr Gounder added.
Some experts say the plan was also unfair to at-risk men who would not have access to the Genius vaccine, especially those who have HIV and cannot safely get the old coccyx vaccine.
“It won’t be enough to meet the need,” said Elizabeth Finlay, communications director for the National Coalition of STD Directors. “Also, without better testing ability, a strategy based on contact with a positive case becomes flat.”
It’s also not clear what qualifies as potential exposure, he added: “Do you need to know if someone tested positive at the event, or would you just say, ‘Oh, I went to a rave and I want to be safe’?”
Many physicians are concerned about the side effects and scars of the old smallpox vaccine, as well as the misinformation and hesitation about the vaccine, Ms Finlay said. “We told doctors there was no way they would give someone ACAM2000 in hell,” he said.
Genius vaccine, on the other hand, has never been used on this scale, and federal health officials say they will keep an eye out for unexpected side effects.
The administration has so far provided more than 9,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine and 300 courses of antiviral treatment in 32 jurisdictions across the country, officials said Tuesday.
The European Union is adopting a similar plan, sending 5,300 of its 100,000 Genius doses to Spain, with the highest number of cases, followed by Portugal, Germany and Belgium. Other member states will receive the dose in July and August.
The number of monkeypox has increased rapidly in many countries in Europe and the United States.
What to know about monkeypox virus
What is a monkeypox? Monkeypox is a virus endemic to parts of Central and West Africa. It is similar to smallpox, but less severe. It was discovered in 1958 after an outbreak in monkeys kept for research, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of June 28, there were 306 cases in 27 states and 156 cases in the District of Columbia, up from a week earlier. Dr. Walensky said the CDC has enabled its emergency operations center to better monitor and respond to outbreaks.
Dr J Verma, director of the Colonel’s Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response, said the numbers reported could be underestimated. “It’s pretty clear to me and I think for many others the epidemic is much bigger than the number of our official cases.” He said.
In view of the growing number, the available doses will not be enough to meet the demand. The Washington Department of Health on Monday proposed an appointment to vaccinate 300 monkeypox; The slots are full in less than 15 minutes.
New York City, which has identified 55 cases of monkeypox as of Tuesday, had 1,000 doses of the genius vaccine in hand. The city’s health department began administering the vaccines at a single clinic in Chelsea, where clients were primarily wealthy white men who had sex with men.
The city offers the first dose June 23 at noon. Less than two hours later, officials said Announcement That clinic could no longer arrange the walk and booked an appointment until June 27th. Until Tuesday, the city was Still waiting For more ticker doses to be available.
“It started and then it stopped, and it started without anyone preparing, and I’m not sure when it will come back,” said Keletso Makofane, a social network epidemiologist at Harvard University’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights.
“All of these uncertainties don’t help build the confidence we need to have,” Dr. McAufen said.
Several experts also took issue with the position and said it would have been more justified to offer vaccines in clinics frequently by black men with untreated HIV and limited access to healthcare.