U.S. to deploy nearly 300,000 monkeypox vaccine doses to fight outbreak

Mock-up vials labeled “Monkeypox vaccine” are seen in this illustration taken, May 25, 2022. 

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

The U.S. will deploy nearly 300,000 monekypox vaccine doses in the coming weeks in an effort to stamp out the growing outbreak of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people who have had confirmed or presumed monkeypox exposures get vaccinated against the virus. Vaccination should occur within two weeks of exposure to the virus but the sooner the better, according to the CDC.

The U.S. is immediately releasing 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine from the strategic national stockpile, followed by 240,000 doses in the coming weeks. A total of 1.6 million doses of Jynneos will be available in the fall, according to the Health and Human Services Department.

Jynneos is a two-dose vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration for adults ages 18 and older who are high risk of exposure to smallpox or monkeypox. HHS is prioritizing allocation of Jynneos doses to communities with the highest number of monkeypox cases because supply is still limited.

Local health departments can also request shipments of the older generation smallpox vaccine ACAM2000, which the U.S. has in much greater supply. However, the vaccine can have serious side effects and is not recommended for everyone.

The U.S. has confirmed 306 monkeypox cases across 27 states and Washington, D.C., according to the CDC. The largest outbreaks are in California, Illinois and New York with dozens of confirmed infections in each of those states.

Worldwide, more than 4,700 cases of monkeypox have been reported across 49 nations. The current outbreak is unusual because it is occurring primarily in North American and European countries, rather than remote areas of West and Central Africa where the virus has long circulated at low levels.

The World Health Organization said the outbreak does not represent a global public health emergency right now, but said the virus represents an evolving threat that needs close monitoring.

Monkeypox primarily spreads through close physical contact and in the current outbreak sex is major source of transmission. Right now, gay and bisexual men who had sex with multiple partners are one of the groups at highest risk of infection, according to the CDC.

Monkeypox often begins with symptoms similar to the flu as fever, headache, body aches, chills, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes. A rash that looks like pimples or blisters then appears on the body. People are most infectious when they have the rash.

Some patients in the current outbreak have developed a rash only on the genitals or anus before showing any flulike symptoms, according to the CDC. In other cases, patients developed the rash without any flulike symptoms at all.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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