Tens of thousands of monkeypox vaccines rushed to clinics

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The Biden administration will soon begin shipping tens of thousands of doses of vaccine to clinics nationwide in a bid to control a record outbreak of monkeypox in the United States, which many experts say is far larger than the official figure of 396 cases.

The vaccination strategy, which officials characterized earlier this week as part of a broad push for more testing and public awareness for monkeypox, will focus on distributing doses to states with the highest number of confirmed cases of the disease, which is spread through close contact. this can lead to fever, pain and a visible rash. Gay and bisexual men have been disproportionately infected with the virus and remain particularly vulnerable to infection, fueled by celebrations during Pride Month, public health experts warn.

In most cases, monkeypox symptoms 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.

Biden-monkeypox response mirrors early missteps of coronavirus, experts say

The management plan calls for the immediate distribution of about 28,000 courses its existing supply of Jynneos vaccine, the only vaccine specifically approved by federal agencies to prevent monkeypox. Officials also said they would expand access to the vaccines, which were previously limited to people with known exposure to monkeypox.

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

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

The country’s Strategic National Stockpile has 32,000 two-dose courses of the Jynneos vaccine in its inventory, said David Boucher, a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the stockpile.

During the initial distribution, the vaccine allocation will be based on each state’s confirmed cases in relation to its population classified as at risk of the disease. Men who frequently have sex with other men are considered to be particularly at risk. The first set 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.

More doses of Jynneos are slated to be distributed in late July after the United States received additional vaccination cycles.

US officials will also continue to provide more than 100 million doses of ACAM2000, an older vaccine approved to prevent smallpox. Although the vaccine is considered effective against monkeypox, the CDC warns that it can cause serious side effects and cannot be used for people with severely compromised immune systems or eczema.

“The CDC will work with state, territory and local health officials requesting the ACAM2000 vaccine to ensure individuals are fully informed of the benefits and risks prior to receiving the vaccine,” the White House said in a briefing distributed Tuesday .

Senior Biden administration officials also touted their 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 in 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 parallels some of the mistakes made in early 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic first threatened the United States. For example, the administration initially limited testing to several dozen public health labs, which some patients and doctors blamed for delays in getting test results. Experts also warned that the strategy hampered early detection of some infections and led to additional spread, raising the likelihood that the virus – which has been appearing 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 those criticisms on Tuesday, calling the latest announcement a “confusing mess” that didn’t explain the formula for vaccine distribution or how that might change as more vaccines become available .

“There are fundamental questions about how they will allocate limited vaccines to which jurisdictions, and states and local communities need a coordinated federal plan,” Harvey said. “We need to reach people who are at risk for monkeypox and conduct a comprehensive vaccination effort for gay men and other men who have sex with men.”

Advocates are also frustrated that the White House continues to rely on ACAM2000, which can cause serious side effects, while officials await the arrival of doses of the newer Jynneos vaccine from overseas, including more than 1 million doses being the vaccine, manufacturers are stored in Denmark. The Food and Drug Administration has yet to conduct an inspection of the facility before those cans 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 been urging state and federal officials to speed up their monkeypox response, on Tuesday called on the White House to take steps to speed up vaccine production, such as establishing a manufacturing network that will do would meet worldwide needs.

“We must not allow the same failures in vaccine production and distribution that have hampered the global COVID-19 response to result in our failure to contain the current monkeypox outbreak,” the groups wrote in a letter to senior Biden Official shared with The Post.

“The scary part is [monkeypox] is much smaller than Covid,” said James Krellenstein, co-founder of PrEP4ALL. “We have more than 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 freezers in Denmark – cans it owns – when there’s uncontrolled spread in the gay community. If this is a test run for pandemic preparedness, we’re failing.”

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, which represents physicians, scientists and others specializing in infectious diseases, on Thursday commended the government for increasing vaccine supplies but said “an even faster expansion is urgently needed.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/06/28/monkeypox-vaccination-strategy-us/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_politics Tens of thousands of monkeypox vaccines rushed to clinics

James Brien

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