Jun 28, 2022 - Health

White House expands monkeypox vaccine eligibility

Illustration of syringes forming a health plus/cross
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Federal officials on Tuesday urged anyone potentially exposed to a confirmed case of monkeypox in the last two weeks to get vaccinated, in hopes of slowing an outbreak that's grown to more than 300 confirmed cases in the United States.

Why it matters: Days after some local jurisdictions, like New York City, deployed their own vaccination strategies and ran out of shots, the federal government has committed to distributing 56,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine immediately to jurisdictions where outbreaks are the most severe.

  • Supplies in the Strategic National Stockpile are limited, although the Department of Health and Human Services expects to receive 296,000 additional vaccine doses in the coming weeks.

Details: The expansion of vaccine eligibility allows not just close contacts identified by contact tracing to get vaccinated but those at highest risk, including men who have had sex with men and had multiple sex partners in a venue or area with known monkeypox cases.

  • JYNNEOS is a two-dose vaccine that can be used even after a person is exposed to monkeypox, ideally within two weeks, to prevent illness.
  • The two doses are administered 28 days apart, and a person is considered most protected two weeks after the second dose.

What's next: Health officials are banking on the vaccine cutting further spread of the virus, while they expand testing efforts and do more community outreach.

  • "We may be able to prevent disease in a person who's been exposed and prevent further transmission," CDC director Rochelle Walensky told reporters.
  • With ample vaccine supply later this summer, that strategy can shift to prevention, Walensky said, offering vaccines to those who might be at higher risk but have yet to be exposed.
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