Tens of thousands of monkeypox vaccines rushed to clinics

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The Biden administration will begin sending tens of thousands of vaccine doses to clinics across the country in an effort to control a record outbreak of monkeypox in the United States that many experts say is far larger than the official tally of 306. cases, officials said Tuesday.

The vaccination strategy, which officials have characterized as part of a broader campaign for more testing and public awareness of monkeypox, will focus on distributing doses to states with the highest number of confirmed cases of the disease, which spreads through close contact that can lead to fever, body aches and a visible rash. Gay and bisexual men have contracted the virus disproportionately and remain particularly vulnerable to infection, fueled by Pride month celebrations, public health experts warn.

In most cases, the symptoms of monkeypox go away on their own within a few weeks. But for pregnant women, children and people with weakened immune systems, the disease can lead to medical complications, including death, according to the World Health Organization.

The administration plan includes the immediate distribution of approximately 28,000 course of its existing supply of The Jynneos vaccine, the only vaccine federal regulators have specifically approved to prevent monkeypox. Officials also said they were expanding access to vaccines, which had previously been limited to those with known exposure to monkeypox.

“We are now recommending that vaccines be provided to both known monkeypox exposed individuals who are contacted by public health and to individuals who have been recently exposed to monkeypox but may not be identified through case investigation and investigation. contact tracing,” Rochelle said. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She added that those at risk include those who have close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox, as well as men who have sex with men who have had multiple sex partners in a “place” where the monkeypox has spread.

She said people should be vaccinated within two weeks of possible exposure, “and the sooner you can get vaccinated after exposure the better.”

The country’s strategic national stockpile has 32,000 courses of the two-dose Jynneos vaccine in its inventory, said David Boucher, a senior official with the Department of Health and Human Services, who oversees the stockpile.

When first distributed, vaccine allocation will be based on each state’s confirmed cases as a ratio of its population deemed to be at risk of contracting the disease. Men who have frequent sex with other men are thought to be most at risk. The first group of recipients includes Hawaii, Massachusetts, Utah, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, California, Colorado and Florida and DC, according to a draft distribution plan reviewed by The Washington Post.

Further doses of Jynneos are expected to be distributed in late July after the United States receives additional courses of the vaccine.

US authorities will also continue to make available more than 100 million doses of ACAM2000, an older vaccine that was approved to prevent smallpox. Although the vaccine is considered effective against monkeypox, the CDC has warned that it can cause serious side effects and cannot be used for people with severely weakened immune systems or who suffer from eczema.

“The CDC will work with state, territory, and local health departments requesting the ACAM2000 vaccine to ensure that individuals are fully informed of the benefits and risks before receiving the vaccine,” the White House said in a statement. a fact sheet distributed on Tuesday.

Top Biden administration officials have also touted recent efforts to expand monkeypox testing to thousands of locations across the country as officials work to identify possible infections.

“I strongly encourage all healthcare providers to have a high clinical suspicion of monkeypox among their patients,” Walensky said. “Patients with a suspicious rash should be tested.”

Public health experts have criticized the Biden administration’s response to the outbreak, saying the slow rollout of tests and vaccines matches some of the mistakes made in early 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic threatened the first time the United States. For example, the administration initially limited testing to several dozen public health labs, which some patients and doctors have blamed for delays in getting test results. Experts have also warned that the strategy hinders the early detection of some infections and leads to further spread, increasing the likelihood that the virus – which has emerged repeatedly in central and west Africa for decades – will also become endemic in the United States. .

David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, continued that criticism on Tuesday, calling the latest announcement a “confusing mess” that didn’t explain the vaccine distribution formula or how that might change as more vaccines are released. would become available.

“There are deep questions about how they will allocate limited vaccines that jurisdictions, states and local communities need a coordinated federal plan,” Harvey said. “We need to reach those at risk for monkeypox and lead large-scale vaccination efforts for gay men and other men who have sex with men.”

Supporters are also frustrated that the White House continues to rely on ACAM2000, which is considered less effective in fighting monkeypox, while officials wait for doses of the new Jyennos vaccine to arrive from the United States. abroad, of which more than a million doses are stored at Bavarian Nordic, the manufacturer of the vaccine in Denmark. The Food and Drug Administration still needs to inspect the facility before those doses can be shipped to the United States, said two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment. The White House did not respond to questions about whether the FDA had inspected the facility.

PrEP4ALL and Partners for Health, a pair of public health organizations that have pressed state and federal authorities to speed up their response to monkeypox, urged the White House on Tuesday to take steps to speed up vaccine production, such as the establishment of a manufacturing network that would meet global needs.

“We must not allow the same vaccine production and distribution failures that have hampered the global response to COVID-19 to prevent us from containing the current outbreak of monkeypox,” the groups wrote in a letter to senior officials. Biden which was shared with The Post.

“What is scary is [monkeypox] is much smaller than covid,” said PrEP4ALL co-founder James Krellenstein. “We have over a million doses of an FDA-approved vaccine to prevent monkeypox. And the US government can’t figure out how to get it out of the freezers in Denmark – doses it has – when there’s uncontained spread in the gay community. If this is a pandemic preparedness test, we will fail.

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