The United States, which is forecasting an increase in monkeypox cases in the coming weeks, currently does not have enough vaccines to meet demand, a senior health official said Friday.
Concerns have grown particularly in New York, the epicenter of the US outbreak of the virus. As of July 14, almost 390 cases were counted. A total of 1,470 cases have been recorded in the United States.
The disease is characterized by lesions on the skin – which can appear on the genitals or in the mouth – and is often accompanied by fever, sore throat and pain in the lymph nodes. It usually clears up on its own but can be very painful.
“I want to acknowledge that the demand for vaccines from jurisdictions right now is greater than our currently available supply,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “And we know that’s frustrating.”
“We don’t have all the vaccines that we want right now,” she told reporters during a news conference, warning that authorities “are expecting cases to increase in the coming weeks.”
New York health officials had to apologize earlier this week when a government website became overloaded as thousands tried to log in to book vaccination appointments all at once.
“Vaccine supplies are extremely limited, extremely constrained, across the country and particularly here in New York,” the city’s health department chief Ashwin Vasan said Thursday.
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In May, when the outbreak began in the United States, only 2,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine — the only one specifically approved for monkeypox — were available in the country.
Since then, 156,000 doses have been distributed nationwide. More than 130,000 doses have been added to the strategic national stockpile and are expected to be distributed on Monday.
The next round of vaccine distribution will prioritize the hardest-hit regions first, Walensky said.
“I expect there will be a lot more supply for New York City,” she added.
To further fuel shortages, a shipment of 786,000 cans is stuck in Denmark awaiting inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to FDA official Peter Marks, the review is now complete and “we have notified the manufacturer (Bavarian Nordic) that they can ship the vaccine,” he said.
In addition, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday that it has ordered an additional 2.5 million doses of the Jynneos vaccine, due to arrive in 2023. This order follows another earlier this month, which is expected to arrive later this year.
The two-injection vaccine is currently recommended for anyone who has been in close contact with a person infected with monkeypox. Currently, the virus is mainly circulating in the LGBTQ community, especially among gay and bisexual men.
Monkeypox is spread through close physical contact, touching objects previously touched by an infected person, or close personal contact.
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