US to deploy nearly 300,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine to fight outbreak

This illustration, taken May 25, 2022, shows vial mock-ups labeled “Monkeypox Vaccine”.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

The U.S. will deploy about 300,000 doses of smallpox vaccine in the coming weeks to quell the growing virus outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who have been confirmed or suspected to have been exposed to monkeypox be vaccinated against the virus. Vaccinations should be given within two weeks of exposure to the virus, according to the CDC, but the sooner the better.

The US is immediately releasing 56,000 doses of Jynneos vaccine from strategic national stockpiles, 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 Department of Health and Human Services.

Jynneos is a two-dose vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration for adults 18 years of age and older who are at high risk of contracting smallpox or monkeypox. HHS is prioritizing dose distribution of Jynneos to communities with the highest number of monkeypox cases as supplies are still limited.

Local health departments may also request supplies of the older generation smallpox vaccine ACAM2000, which is much more widely stocked in the US. However, the vaccine can have serious side effects and is not recommended for everyone.

There are 306 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the US in 27 states and Washington, DC, according to the CDC. The biggest outbreaks are in California, Illinois and New York, where dozens of infections have been confirmed in each of those states.

There have been no reported deaths from the virus in the US. Most people recover from monkeypox within two to four weeks.

Worldwide, more than 4,700 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 49 countries, with one death reported in Nigeria. The current outbreak is unusual because it occurs mainly in countries in North America and Europe. Historically, the virus has mostly been transmitted in small numbers in remote areas of West and Central Africa. European countries reported 84% of confirmed cases of monkeypox in the current outbreak.

The World Health Organization said on Saturday that the outbreak does not represent a global health emergency right now. However, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the virus is an evolving threat that needs to be closely monitored.

Monkeypox is mainly spread through close physical contact during sexual intercourse, which is the main source of transmission in the current outbreak. People can also become infected with the virus through contaminated materials such as sheets or shared clothing. The virus can spread through the air, but not as easily. According to the CDC, respiratory transmission requires prolonged face-to-face contact.

Gay and bisexual men who have had sex with multiple partners are now at particularly high risk of infection, according to the CDC. However, public health officials have repeatedly stressed that anyone can contract the virus, regardless of sexual orientation.

Monkeypox often begins with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes. Then a rash appears on the body that looks like pimples or blisters. People are most contagious when they have a rash.

Some patients during the current outbreak only developed a rash on their genitals or anus before they developed any flu-like symptoms, according to the CDC. In other cases, patients developed a rash without any flu-like symptoms at all.