The White House said on Tuesday it plans to send tens of thousands of vaccine doses immediately as the country tries to prevent a growing outbreak of monkeypox, amid fears the country is undercounting cases due to insufficient testing.
Administration officials said the vaccine strategy will focus on protecting those most at risk of monkeypox and will use a tiered delivery system to prioritize vaccines to areas with the highest number of cases. .
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed about 300 cases of monkeypox in the United States, although the true number may be higher.
The administration plans to allocate 296,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine over the next few weeks, which is the only vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for monkeypox.
Of these, 56,000 doses that are in the national strategic stock will be allocated immediately. Over the next few months, a combined 1.6 million additional doses will be available, the White House said.
The CDC recommends that new vaccine doses be given to people with confirmed exposures to monkeypox and suspected exposures, rather than those with a confirmed case.
This includes those who have had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox, those who know their sex partner has been diagnosed with monkeypox, and men who have sex with men who have recently had multiple sexual partners in a place where there has been confirmed monkeypox, or in an area where monkeypox is spreading.
Health officials have said close contact, and sexual contact in particular, appear to be the main drivers of this outbreak.
“As the number of cases and the number of jurisdictions with cases increase, the need for medical countermeasures, including vaccines, continues to grow,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters during the briefing. a press briefing on Tuesday.
“The administration’s current strategy is focused on bringing the outbreak under control by providing vaccines to those who need them most to prevent the spread of monkeypox in the hardest-hit communities, and as additional supplies become available. available, we will expand our efforts to make vaccines available to a wider population,” Walensky said.
The virus has spread disproportionately among gay and bisexual men, although health authorities and LGBTQ advocacy groups have repeatedly stressed that monkeypox does not discriminate between those who are gay or straight and that everyone should stay aware and informed of the risks of the virus.
When cases of monkeypox began to appear in the United States, federal health officials said there were approximately 72,000 doses of Jynneos in the strategic national stockpile, a paltry amount compared to the more than 100 million doses of Jynneos. ‘ACAM2000, an old smallpox vaccine.
Local and state governments have so far expressed a preference for the new Jynneos smallpox vaccine due to concerns about possible side effects associated with ACAM2000.
According to the White House, the Jynneos vaccine will be allocated using a four-tier distribution strategy that prioritizes jurisdictions with the highest rates of monkeypox cases.
Within each tier, doses of Jynneos will be assigned based on the number of people at risk of monkeypox who also have a contraindication to ACAM2000, such as those living with HIV.