U.S. Offers Extra Monkeypox Vaccine Doses for Pride Events
NEW YORK — The U.S. is setting aside an extra 50,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine for places with upcoming gay pride events, health officials said Thursday.
Based on the number of attendees, the amount of health professionals available, the location, and the risk factors for the disease, the doses that will be sent will vary.
“More shots in arms is how we get the outbreak under control,” Bob Fenton, the White House monkeypox response coordinator, told reporters Thursday. He said the effort is an attempt to “meet people where they are.”
Over the next two-months, at least 12 U.S. Pride events will be scheduled. These include large gatherings in Atlanta in September and New Orleans in October. U.S. officials said they will send up to 2,000 additional doses to North Carolina, where the Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade will be held this weekend.
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“While we are offering the vaccine at these events to those at high risk, this is a two-dose vaccine series, and receiving the vaccine at the event will not provide protection at the event itself,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals, but it wasn’t considered a disease that spreads easily among people until May, when infections emerged in Europe and the U.S.
In countries which have never seen monkeypox before, there have been over 39,000 reported cases. Most cases have been reported in males who have had sex. However, health officials emphasize that monkeypox can be contracted by anyone.
The U.S. has the most infections of any country — more than 13,500. The U.S. has the highest number of infections, with 98% being men. 93% are from men who had recently had sexual contact.
Officials claim that the virus spreads mainly by skin-to-skin contact. However, they caution against spreading it through other means, such as touching linens touched by someone who has monkeypox.
Persons with monkeypox might experience bodyaches, fevers, chills, and fatigue. Many people affected have experienced painful and swollen zit-like bumps. While no deaths have been reported from the U.S., there were reports of death in other countries.
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The U.S. has a limited supply of what is considered the main weapon against the virus — a vaccine called Jynneos. People receive the shots as soon they believe they are exposed. Scientists continue to investigate the effectiveness of these shots.
Last week, the government decided to increase the supply. Instead of injecting a whole vial into the deeper tissues, it gave people one-fifth of the normal dose. The release of 442,000 smaller doses was announced by officials this week. They can be ordered from state, territorial and local health departments. On Thursday, they said more is coming next week — 1.8 million doses, or 360,000 vials.
Some health professionals may not have the experience to give shots with just-underthe-skin, which involves different needles or syringes. U.S. officials say that monkeypox shot delivery has been made easier by some U.S. health facilities and departments, such as those in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Some local officials said that the process could take up to a week.
Health officials also announced Thursday that next week, they will increase the supply of TPOXX (a medication for treating monkeypox) by 50,000 treatments.
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